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Diploma Difference

The diploma you earn in high school could have a big impact on your future.

The diploma difference

The type of diploma you earn in high school matters. Colleges look at your grades, but they also want to know whether you earned a more demanding diploma and what kind of courses you took. Your Indiana options include:

  • Core 40: Indiana's Core 40 diploma is the academic foundation all students need to succeed in college, apprenticeship programs, military training and the workforce. Even if you are planning to go directly to work after high school graduation, you will still need to be prepared for training and retooling throughout your lifetime. Core 40 gives you more options — and more opportunities — to find a career with a real future. Students who take strong academic courses in high school are more likely to enroll in college and earn a degree. For even more options and opportunities after high school, you should push yourself by earning a Core 40 diploma with Academic Honors or Technical Honors.

    (To graduate with less than Core 40, a student must complete a formal opt-out process involving parental consent. See your school counselor for full details.)
  • Core 40 with Academic Honors: The Academic Honors diploma is recommended for admission to some Indiana colleges, including Indiana University Bloomington and Purdue University West Lafayette. You must earn an overall grade point average (GPA) of B or higher, take additional classes (many of which are required for college admissions anyway) and choose one of several options to enhance your high school résumé (such as Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses or high scores on the SAT or ACT). The Core 40 with Academic Honors pays off, too: you’ll be eligible for more financial aid from the State of Indiana, and some Indiana colleges offer scholarships just for students who have earned this diploma. 
  • Core 40 with Technical Honors: The Technical Honors diploma includes all the Core 40 requirements. In addition, you must earn an overall grade point average (GPA) of B or higher, and choose one of several options to enhance your technical skills, such as completing an industry-recognized workforce certificate or earning college credit. Like the Core 40 with Academic Honors, the Core 40 with Technical Honors opens the door to more state financial aid while making you more competitive for apprenticeships or college.
  • International Baccalaureate: The International Baccalaureate program, available at some high schools, is designed to prepare you intellectually, personally, emotionally and socially to live in a rapidly globalizing world. You can choose courses in languages, business and more.

Review Indiana college admissions requirements to make sure you’re earning the credits you’ll need for admission. Otherwise you may be forced to take remediation classes in college — costing you more money and pushing your graduation date further away. 

Financial aid benefits

Besides meeting college admissions criteria, a Core 40 diploma with Academic Honors or Technical Honors also makes you eligible for more financial aid from state of Indiana. Students eligible to receive the need-based Frank O’Bannon Award who earn an Honors diploma are eligible to receive an increased award designation. Read more about why your grades and diploma matter.

Courses count, too

Commit to taking classes that will stretch your abilities. Advanced Placement (AP) and dual credit courses will be part of your requirements if you are pursuing a Core 40 with Academic Honors. Even if you’re not required to take these courses, you should consider them.

Both will earn you college credit, saving you money on your college tuition bill. Even though you may have to pay a fee for these courses, if you earn a good grade you’ll save much more money later. Learn more about Advanced Placement and dual credit courses, and see whether they can cut your college costs.