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What is a high school certificate of completion?

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Quick Answer

In some states, a high school certificate of completion represents completion of high-school-level required courses. In other states across the United States, the certificate is presented to students who are not on track for graduation but are ready to leave high school and join the workforce.

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Full Answer

A high school certificate of completion holds different meanings depending on the state in which it is issued. According to the state of Michigan, for example, a certificate of completion is not an academic credential and cannot be used in the place of a high school diploma. Certificates of completion are generally given to students who have met minimum high school graduation requirements but have been taught an alternative curriculum through an "individual education plan."

In addition to the alternative curriculum, a certificate of completion can be obtained without passing a high-school-level exit exam. To receive a high school diploma, students must first pass a high school exit exam. All employers, colleges, and branches of military accept high school diplomas, but only some employers and a few colleges accept a certificate of completion in the place of a high school diploma. However, if a student is struggling to complete high school, a certificate of completion can be a better alternative to simply leaving high school with an incomplete record.

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