Program overview

  • Increasing postsecondary enrollment: GED bridge programs are geared toward students who have not earned a high school diploma or equivalent credential but intend to pursue postsecondary education. The goal of the GED bridge programs is for students to both earn their GED and successfully transition into a postsecondary education program.

  • Providing career-oriented GED preparation: GED bridge programs are typically run by community and technical colleges or local school districts. Generally, program curricula have two primary goals: first, ensuring students have the academic skills needed to pass the GED tests; and second, increasing students’ awareness of and preparedness for workforce training and postsecondary academic opportunities.

  • Support and planning for the transition into postsecondary education: As part of a GED bridge program, students may receive support from a college transitions advisor. Advisors may provide individual or group-based college and career guidance, college/training program admissions counseling, or financial aid counseling. In some cases, bridge programs may provide continued advisory services to participants after they transition into postsecondary education.

Two studies with rigorous designs demonstrate that GED bridge programs are a well-supported strategy for increasing GED completion and postsecondary enrollment.

  • A 2020 randomized controlled trial found that a GED bridge program in Wisconsin increased the percentage of students who earned a GED by 11.7 percentage points and increased enrollment into college courses by 8.5 percentage points, as compared to students in the control group.

  • A 2013 randomized controlled trial in New York found that a GED bridge program increased GED course completion by 21.7 percentage points, GED exam passage rates by 30.4 percentage points, the rate at which students enrolled in community colleges by 17 percentage points, and the rate at which students enrolled for a second semester of community college by 8.9 percentage points.

  • Build comprehensive and targeted recruitment campaigns: Especially when first implementing a GED bridge program, the model may be unfamiliar to potential students. As such, administering educational institutions should conduct proactive outreach to potential students, so that they understand the benefits of the model over traditional GED preparation programs. For example, programs may establish connections with local school districts to identify students who have dropped out.

  • Monitor attendance to reduce attrition: As students miss more classes or counseling sessions, it may become increasingly difficult for them to complete the GED bridge program. As such, program administrators should regularly monitor attendance data, in order to identify any students who may be at risk for noncompletion. Systematically connecting these students to available student success services can boost attendance and program completion rates.

  • Use data to be responsive to student needs: Colleges or school districts administering a GED bridge program should leverage student feedback and outcomes data to identify and address areas where the program can improve. For example, if most students are struggling with the math portion of the GED exam, administrators may offer an optional supplemental math seminar to build on regular in-class learning.

  • Connect students to supports at their postsecondary institution: The GED bridge model is designed to support students in both earning their GED and enrolling in a postsecondary program. Once enrolled, students may need continued support to complete their degree. As such, GED bridge programs should develop relationships with student success programs at the postsecondary institutions their students most often attend. By connecting students to these programs directly, GED bridge programs can ensure more of their graduates receive these services.