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K.Stephens
08-09-2016, 11:34 AM
Is it even possible?
My main character was a bit of a rebel in school and was expelled for fighting and assaulting a teacher (he was wrongfully accused).
He didn't finish school but he is actually very intelligent and dreams of going to college and making something of his life.
I'm from Australia so I'm not sure what it's like in the US, but is there a way he can apply for college even without having finished school?
He happens to make friends without a wealthy business man, who is friends with the dean of admissions in a pretty high profile college - can this business man find a way to get him in?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)
Thank you.

Old Hack
08-09-2016, 05:29 PM
In the UK, where I am, much depends on your age.

We do GCSEs at 16, A levels at 18, then go to university to do a first degree (takes three years) and then to university to do a masters degree. It's possible to leave school after GCSEs and work, and then get into university a few years down the line to get a degree or even a masters degree if the work you do in the interim connects in some way to the degree you want to take. Whether this is true or not in the US I'm not sure, but it certainly is here.

King Neptune
08-09-2016, 05:30 PM
There are programs specifically for people who haven't completed their secondary school, and most people in the U.S. are accepted before they complete anyway. I can think of one guy I who got accepted to college and blew off the rest of his final year in high school, and he did go to college.

Maryn
08-09-2016, 05:33 PM
I've never heard of a student being admitted to an accredited college without either a high school diploma or a the equivalent GED certification, which many people who have dropped out (including adults) pursue. Depending on the school in question, the SAT or ACT exam may be required as well.

I'm sure we have academics and parents of kids about to enter college who know much more. I'll keep you company while we await them.

Maryn, offering you half her cookie

WriterDude
08-09-2016, 05:43 PM
Only with a slight of hand and a prayer that the auditors don't spot it.

In the UK A level results are provided electronically and centrally, so there would have to be a serious breach of process just to get them through the admin and the reputational damage to the institution would be enough to discourage it. Qualifications could be faked but they are validated with the awarding body. Having overseas qualifications and a blind eye might do it. I suppose it comes down to what motivations the business man can offer.

King Neptune
08-09-2016, 05:46 PM
Apparently it's becoming more common.
Can't Complete High School? Go Right to College

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/30/education/30dropouts.html?_r=0

Marissa D
08-09-2016, 05:54 PM
He could go to a community college for a few semesters and then (probably) transfer to a regular four-year college/university.

Myrealana
08-09-2016, 06:16 PM
You don't technically have to graduate high school to get into college.

Now, obviously, the more selective the college, the more likely they are to require a diploma or GED, but my son started college before receiving his diploma. Technically, he was attending high school and college simultaneously. He did have to provide his ACT scores and his transcripts. He was attending a community college, but the four-year university he planned to transfer to specified that his high school diploma wasn't required--only completion of his 2-year program at the community college.

cornflake
08-09-2016, 06:29 PM
Is it even possible?
My main character was a bit of a rebel in school and was expelled for fighting and assaulting a teacher (he was wrongfully accused).
He didn't finish school but he is actually very intelligent and dreams of going to college and making something of his life.
I'm from Australia so I'm not sure what it's like in the US, but is there a way he can apply for college even without having finished school?
He happens to make friends without a wealthy business man, who is friends with the dean of admissions in a pretty high profile college - can this business man find a way to get him in?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)
Thank you.

At a high-profile school this is less likely. He'd have to take the GED exam (which is a simple thing) and likely max out his SATs or ACTs, but still - getting expelled for that stuff and not completing high school (and thus not having a lot of the things most high school applicants have like recommendations, activities, etc.) would make getting into a prestigious college at his age very challenging. Knowing the dean of admissions could help someone a bit but someone in that position has to be more than careful to not abuse their position. There's an entire admissions committee that meets and goes over each applicant. They'd push back hard on him, no matter his scores -- as a good school has kids with the same scores and perfect h.s. records.

How old is he? You might get him a GED, send him to a lesser college first, then it'd seem more reasonable.

lizmonster
08-09-2016, 06:35 PM
I started college in 1982, and I ran into a couple of kids who didn't have high school diplomas. My (dim) recollection, though, was that they'd done something else, like work (charity or otherwise) or something else that showed "initiative."

AFAIK, private colleges can accept whoever they want for whatever reason. As a reader, I wouldn't find it at all implausible to have a rich businessman with connections buying someone a slot in a top-tier school. I'd expect the kid's classmates to roast them for it, though.

Megann
08-09-2016, 06:42 PM
I never finished high school, so when I wanted to go to college I had to be over 21 and take an entrance exam. The individual schools themselves determine the requirements (which tests and what minimum score you need to attain to pass) Some school may also require you follow classes before taking an the exam. I had to take two tests in mine, one physics and one math. I studied for a year, because I was quite rusty in both. I graduated a few years ago from said college and considering so many employers demand a degree in something (anything) I am glad I did. It gave me more options.

DancingMaenid
08-09-2016, 07:12 PM
I live in a US state with very few regulations and requirements for homeschoolers, and I was able to go to a community college at 18 with no formal diploma or transcript. I just said that I'd been homeschooled (which was true) when asked about my high school credentials. From there, I had a lot of transfer opportunities.

I did need a high school transcript and SAT scores when I was applying to transfer schools. I was able to sign up for the SATs as an adult student, and I had a cobbled-together transcript.

I didn't end up getting into the prestigious school I wanted, but the fact that I was applying to their engineering school might have had something to do with it as spots were more limited. It was an in-state school and the community college system had a guaranteed transfer agreement with them. So if I'd stuck with English or got better than a C on Calc III, I probably would have gotten into the prestigious school.

That said, if someone has a record of having attended school and been expelled, I don't know if that could be suppressed.

benbenberi
08-09-2016, 07:47 PM
A private university/college in the US can admit anybody they choose to, for whatever reason they like. If your character demonstrates they would be an asset to the school and has a sponsor with enough pull to convince the admissions team to bend the rules in this case, they're good. With a record of expulsion for assault it will be a tough case to make, but not impossible. Be aware, though, that the requirements around financial aid are less flexible than admission, and the character might not be eligible for anything and have to self-fund (or rely on their wealthy benefactor for tuition & expenses too).

AW Admin
08-09-2016, 08:24 PM
Sure he can.

There needs to be a gap of several years between his high school expulsion and his college admission.

He needs to have proven himself during that time; by being crime free, by having worked, by having contributed to community / society.

It's helpful if he's taken classes or earned his GED; that makes a difference. He'll still have to take SATs; those are mostly used as cutoffs (i.e. you gotta meet our minimums) but an unusually high score will attract notice.

There is no legal requirement that you have a high school diploma; special admits are made all the time.

Having an insider on your side is huge.

Silva
08-09-2016, 08:53 PM
When applying to universities, nobody cared that I didn't have a highschool diploma. They cared that I hadn't taken the SAT or ACT. I went to a community college instead, where nobody cared what level of education you had previously, and now I could transfer into most public universities even though I still don't have ACT/SAT scores or a GED or a highschool diploma. Private universities are a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Old Hack
08-09-2016, 09:12 PM
I've never heard of a student being admitted to an accredited college without either a high school diploma or a the equivalent GED certification, which many people who have dropped out (including adults) pursue. Depending on the school in question, the SAT or ACT exam may be required as well.

I'm sure we have academics and parents of kids about to enter college who know much more. I'll keep you company while we await them.

Maryn, offering you half her cookie


Only with a slight of hand and a prayer that the auditors don't spot it.

In the UK A level results are provided electronically and centrally, so there would have to be a serious breach of process just to get them through the admin and the reputational damage to the institution would be enough to discourage it. Qualifications could be faked but they are validated with the awarding body. Having overseas qualifications and a blind eye might do it. I suppose it comes down to what motivations the business man can offer.

I finished school before I finished my A levels, and several years later went straight into a masters degree at a good UK university. I had an interview, and had to share a portfolio of my work (it was a writing MA), but I didn't have to take any examinations to get in. Just my work was enough.

CathleenT
08-09-2016, 09:23 PM
In California, all you need is to be eighteen to attend community college. I went to community college at fifteen because I'd passed the state proficiency exam, although that was some time ago. Once you have your transfer units, a lot of schools don't care about high school. My daughter (who did graduate HS, but it didn't matter in this instance) went to Sierra College before eventually getting her PhD from UC Davis in microbiology. In California at least, this would not be a plot hole, as long as your protag went to a community college followed by a state university.

Casey Karp
08-09-2016, 09:25 PM
As others have suggested, there can be big differences between public and private schools in terms of their willingness to accept students who haven't arrived via the traditional path from high school. There's also going to be a lot of variation from state to state. As a general rule, public, i.e. state-funded schools, are required to take any in-state student who can demonstrate they've attained a minimum level of academic achievement. That could involve, as a couple of people have mentioned, time at a community college* or a specific score on the SAT.

Note also that some schools have formal programs to assist various categories of "non-traditional" students. That might include younger students, adults significantly above traditional college age, or "at-risk" students.

* Since the OP isn't a US resident, I'll note that community colleges are generally not degree-granting institutions. Their funding comes from a mixture of federal, state, and local sources, and they focus on vocational education and/or preparing students who fall short of the requirements for a four-year college or university.

WriterDude
08-09-2016, 09:53 PM
A mature student as they were called once, could by pass the entry level qualifications as experience is of comparative value. Any course will have published entry requirements though, even if its an interview/portfolio. It's not unknown for institution to lower the entry requirements to help fill places on under subscribed courses.

Silva
08-09-2016, 10:01 PM
* Since the OP isn't a US resident, I'll note that community colleges are generally not degree-granting institutions. Their funding comes from a mixture of federal, state, and local sources, and they focus on vocational education and/or preparing students who fall short of the requirements for a four-year college or university.

This may be something that varies by state, too, since to my knowledge the majority of community colleges in WA state at least are degree-granting (Associate of Arts or Associate of Science), with established transfer agreements with in-state universities (including some private ones). Even the technical degree that I pursued had a transfer track option (though I think they have since discontinued that). My school also had a couple four year degree options, since they were part of a large geographical area lacking any other four year schools, but I think that is probably unusual.

Myrealana
08-09-2016, 10:34 PM
* Since the OP isn't a US resident, I'll note that community colleges are generally not degree-granting institutions. Their funding comes from a mixture of federal, state, and local sources, and they focus on vocational education and/or preparing students who fall short of the requirements for a four-year college or university.
Community colleges are absolutely degree-granting, accredited institutions. The degree is called an "Associates" though many now also offer bachelors degree programs.

I see I was beaten to the punch, so I will just add this FAQ from USNews regarding Community Colleges.
http://www.usnews.com/education/community-colleges/articles/2015/02/06/frequently-asked-questions-community-college

Siri Kirpal
08-09-2016, 11:13 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I graduated (back in the last millennium) from Marylhurst College, which was (at the time) designed for returning students. I had transcripts from several places, but many students got credit for life experience.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

K.Stephens
08-10-2016, 02:08 AM
Thanks everyone for your detailed responses :)
My MC is 21 and has taken every effort to turn his life around. He is very motivated so I can imagine he wouldn't hesitate to enrol himself into a community college if it meant he could one day attend college.
Again, thank you, I really appreciate it.
Kiah

WeaselFire
08-10-2016, 06:52 AM
My MC is 21 and has taken every effort to turn his life around. He is very motivated so I can imagine he wouldn't hesitate to enrol himself into a community college if it meant he could one day attend college.

Just have him get a GED. It's just a test, technically a set of four, and not a very hard test at that. Last I knew, it was $120. It won't get you into Harvard, but almost any mid-level school will accept it, along with entrance exams of some sort (ACT, SAT, etc.).

But, since every four year degree starts with the same basic courses you get in the two years at a community college, you can start there and transfer to a four year school with half your school credits competed.

Jeff

cornflake
08-10-2016, 07:20 AM
Just have him get a GED. It's just a test, technically a set of four, and not a very hard test at that. Last I knew, it was $120. It won't get you into Harvard, but almost any mid-level school will accept it, along with entrance exams of some sort (ACT, SAT, etc.).

But, since every four year degree starts with the same basic courses you get in the two years at a community college, you can start there and transfer to a four year school with half your school credits competed.

Jeff

That very much depends - every degree does not start with the same core, especially the OP suggests it's a top-flight private school. They tend to not accept so much in the way of cc classes even if they have some of the same named classes, same as they don't accept APs as credits, etc. Many state schools have deals with local CCs to accept stuff, but that's particular to those institutions and is not universal to them either.

You can walk into, say, Amherst with an Associate's and they might start you at 0 credits accepted.* I've known people who went from a four-year state uni to a private and the private wouldn't take a bunch of their basic credits.

*Just an example, not speaking to Amherst specifically.

James D. Macdonald
08-12-2016, 09:06 AM
You could look at the particular college's admission requirements and see if "High school diploma" is one of them. The requirements may be more on the order of "Four semesters of math, eight semesters of English, two semesters of a foreign language...." If that's the case, and your character has or can obtain those, he can try for admission. Some schools are getting away from ACT/SAT. As many others have said, private colleges can admit anyone they please, for any reason they please.

My father went to college (to an engineering school) at age 17, without a high school diploma. But that was in the 1930s, so I doubt if it would map 1:1 on today's situation.

rwm4768
08-12-2016, 09:22 AM
He'd need to get his GED. If he's smart, this should be no problem. He'd also have to take a college admissions test like the ACT or SAT (depending on where he's applying). He wouldn't be likely to get as many scholarships as someone who finished high school.

My mom went the GED route and went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from college.

spork
08-14-2016, 07:43 PM
I think the most realistic thing to do is have your MC get his GED before applying to college. While there are exceptions, most college students have a HS diploma or a GED. If readers don't know about the loopholes, they might view your MC's lack of a diploma as an oversight on your part.

neandermagnon
08-14-2016, 07:58 PM
Only with a slight of hand and a prayer that the auditors don't spot it.

In the UK A level results are provided electronically and centrally, so there would have to be a serious breach of process just to get them through the admin and the reputational damage to the institution would be enough to discourage it. Qualifications could be faked but they are validated with the awarding body. Having overseas qualifications and a blind eye might do it. I suppose it comes down to what motivations the business man can offer.

You can get into university without A-levels. You can get in based on vocational qualifications such as Btecs or even an apprenticeship. You would have to demonstrate to the university at interview that you're a keen student and academically capable of doing the qualifications. My dad went to university with an apprenticeship and no A-levels and not terribly good O-levels (and was first person ever in my working class London family to go to uni). He even got a postgraduate qualification after his bachelor's degree.

When I was at uni, there were quite a few students who got in with access qualifications and no high school qualifications. Access courses were (maybe still are? they keep changing the system) run by adult education centres for the purpose of enabling students with no formal qualifications to get into university. Additionally, a lot of lecturers at my uni commented that mature students - most of whom had got in through access courses rather than secondary school qualifications - were much better students due to having a better work ethic from having worked in the "real world" and gained a lot of life experience, compared to students who'd just gone straight from secondary school to uni. I was a mature student, albeit one with normal secondary school qualifications as I worked for a couple of years between secondary school and university, so I probably knew disproportionately more mature students, due to being part of mature students' groups at uni, etc.

Universities will take whoever can demonstrate to them that they have the intelligence, work ethic and interest in the subject to be able to succeed at the course. How well you do at interview makes a big difference. It's probably harder to get in if you don't have the standard qualifications but the fact that someone's gone back into studying after working, completed various Btec, apprenticeship or access qualifications shows you have the work ethic at the very least.

Dave Williams
08-14-2016, 09:38 PM
I dropped out of high school without a diploma. A few years later I signed up at a local college. The subject of high school never came up. The only things they were interested in were my sex, religion, racial or ethnic affiliation, and how I was going to pay. They were very insistent that I would not be allowed to enter college without ticking all the correct boxes. I believe they enrolled me as a Hasidic Eskimo.

Apparently a few states offered subsidized or free college based on your high school grades, but not mine.

AW Admin
08-14-2016, 10:02 PM
I dropped out of high school without a diploma. A few years later I signed up at a local college. The subject of high school never came up. The only things they were interested in were my sex, religion, racial or ethnic affiliation, and how I was going to pay. They were very insistent that I would not be allowed to enter college without ticking all the correct boxes. I believe they enrolled me as a Hasidic Eskimo.

Apparently a few states offered subsidized or free college based on your high school grades, but not mine.

Seriously, a high school diploma or GED are not legal requirements, and if you've got money, meet the standards for acceptance, and have supporting evidence for your ability to function and succeed in college (standardized tests, solid reccs, a good personal statement, etc.), a wide variety of colleges, community colleges and universities will offer you admission.

This isn't at all rare.

spork
08-15-2016, 10:43 PM
Seriously, a high school diploma or GED are not legal requirements, and if you've got money, meet the standards for acceptance, and have supporting evidence for your ability to function and succeed in college (standardized tests, solid reccs, a good personal statement, etc.), a wide variety of colleges, community colleges and universities will offer you admission.

The reason I think the MC should have a diploma or a GED is because the OP mentions that the MC is trying to get into a high-profile top school. Even with an "in" from a personal connection, I can't imagine a very prestigious school waiving entry requirements when they have so many other fully qualified applicants.

cornflake
08-15-2016, 10:46 PM
Especially as the 'in' is the Dean of Admissions.

GeorgeK
08-16-2016, 01:11 PM
I skipped out on the last year of high school and was admitted to a public 4 year university. I also had stellar ACT scores and GPA and had taken some after hours HS classes, didn't take study halls and so had more credits. I later got a diploma from my HS when I showed them my college transcript that I passed an American History class. That was the only thing missing from my HS that they required for me to graduate. The University waved the HS diploma requirement, probably because of my ACT scores and HS transcript

lianna williamson
08-17-2016, 04:30 PM
I flunked out of high school. I picked the college I wanted to go to, moved there, and started working in the kitchen. I paid to take a few classes (for credit) as a non-matriculating student. I got A's in those classes. After a year, they let me in as a "real" student. They never brought up taking the GED, so I never did.

ArtsyAmy
08-24-2016, 08:01 PM
Not sure if this thread is still being followed, but I'll respond because my perspective is a good bit different from some others', and I'm so glad to find a question here that I know something about so I can contribute!

This may be counterintuitive, but less selective colleges are often more likely to have specific requirements for admission, which they won't budge on, than very selective colleges and universities here in the US.

To let you know where I'm coming from: I don't send my kids to school, but oldest went to college and recently graduated with a B.A., and second is currently a university student. (I comply with my state's regulations for "homeschoolers.") I'm a member of various groups of parents who also don't send kids off to school (until college), where we talk about college admissions for our kids, and in recent years I've done tons of research on college admissions.

A community college might say, "A high school diploma or GED is required," and mean that nothing may be substituted, not even a perfect SAT score plus perfect scores on all the SAT Subject Tests plus fluency in eight languages plus anything else you can think of. A private, very selective school, however, may not have such a specific requirement. If your character, say, got great scores on the SAT and several SAT subject tests (which would show competency in the subjects a typical high school students takes) and has delved into a particular interest of his, very selective private colleges and universities may be quite interested in admitting him.

Also, many bright kids who don't go to "traditional" schools avoid getting a GED because (deservedly so or not) there can be a stigma attached--some people think of it as a test for people who aren't very serious about education, who dropped out of high school, etc. Having a GED can make an applicant less attractive to admissions boards than not having a GED.

Hope things go well with your story.

Richard White
08-24-2016, 08:20 PM
This is an anecdotal story, so its applicability may vary for what you're looking for.

A fellow sergeant of mine ran into this issue when he was eligible for his Master Sergeant. The Army stated they couldn't find his HS diploma and without that, he couldn't be promoted to Master Sergeant. Doug pointed out to them he had a BA and an MA from the University of North Carolina, so he more than made the qualifications. The Army kept insisting that he had to have a HS degree. So, he told us the story as he was preparing his rebuttal.

It seems he was an advanced student in his HS and had started taking college classes as a Junior (half a day at HS/half a day at college). By winter semester his senior year, he decided he was bored with HS and just signed up for a full college load. No one in Registrar realized anything was odd until he was going in to pick up his college graduation paperwork. The college was concerned because they couldn't find his HS diploma and seemed very upset when he told them he didn't have one. As he pointed out, the college let him enroll as a full-time student without one, why was it a problem now? The college was going to refuse to let him graduate unless he could produce a diploma or a GED, until his advisor stepped in and pointed out his 3.85 GPA. After a while, the registrar determined it was more trouble to make him go back for his HS diploma than it was to just graduate him (esp. since he'd already been accepted into the Master's Program) and just gave him a waiver.

Eventually, the Army did the same thing. So, he has his BA and MA without ever receiving a HS diploma or an equivalent certificate.