Big changes are coming for the GED test — it becomes a more costly, online test January 1, 2014.
This announcement gives people who want to start or who have already passed one or more of the five-part test a little over a year to complete it and earn their GED or begin the process anew in 2014.
“We mailed nearly 200 notices to people who have taken some of the tests and 20 people immediately contacted us to finish what they had started,” said Melanie Hunt,Scotland County ABE coordinator with Richmond Community College. “All of these people have paid to take the test, and we’re expecting a substantial cost increase for the future test. If they have not completed by next December, their scores are invalid and they must start over,”
Hunt has worked with adult learners for several years and said it has been a decade since the test was changed. For many years, the cost was $7.50 and only changed to $25 two years ago. It moves to $35 in January. She expressed concern that the cost may rise to approximately $100 and wants anyone needing a GED to act now.
“It is difficult in today’s world to find a job without a high school diploma. We have classes online and in a traditional classroom setting, so anyone interested in earning a GED can walk in the door and get started,” said Hunt.
Math and writing are the two tests students wait until last to tackle. Students work at their own pace, so the time to complete a section of the GED may take weeks or months based upon the individual.
Michael Ward of Laurel Hill encourages high school students to stay in school and get their diplomas.
“You can’t get anywhere without an education. I quit and found a job finishing sheetrock, but like other construction jobs, it ran out. I started coming to class a couple of months ago and found it’s a good environment. I come every day. Really, teenagers should stay in school, otherwise they’ll find themselves wandering the streets for four or five years before they realize there is nothing out there if you don’t have an education. I want to finish here and go into RCC’s welding program. I’ll be able to find a job in that,” he said.
Bridget Gibson of Laurel Hill wants to go to culinary school and is determined to earn her GED.
“I’m working harder here that I ever did in high school. I come every day and like the small classes. I’ll be finished before the end of next year,” she said.
Roniesha Blue of Laurinburg has a child and wants her GED so she can find a job and better care for her four-year-old.
“Anyone in school needs to stay there. There are no jobs without a GED or high school diploma. That’s the first thing an employer asks you. I’m doing better here than I thought I would and like the environment. You work at your own pace and get individual attention when you need it,” she said.
An older student did not want to be identified, but encourages people to attend the class.
“I worked for 38-and-a-half years, but lost my job when the plant closed. Now, I can’t find a job. There’s no need to lie on my application, because 90 percent of employers will fire you if they find out. You just can’t advance without an education now,” she said.
She admitted it’s a challenge having been out of school for nearly 40 years.
“It’s worth it to me. I feel better about myself because I can do it. It’s been difficult trying to cope with no job, a special needs child, and all of this studying. Every day of my life now revolves around getting an education. I do the online classes at home. I can’t help but think of what would happen to me if something happened to my husband. Where would we be then?” she asked.
For her, earning her GED shows a prospective employer she is trying to achieve something in her life. Her goal is to be able to get back into the workforce and earn a paycheck. She has passed three of the five tests and knows she will have them all completed before the version changes in 2014.
GED instructor Linda Oxendine of Maxton said the GED classes are a second chance for people.
“I enjoy seeing people improve their lives. There is good in everybody, and we find that and build upon it. They are not just improving their lives; they are improving those of their families and communities,” she said.
Oxendine works with students one-on-one and stresses the confidentiality of attending classes. For her, even chaotic days are rewarding because people are reaching personal goals.
Nearly a quarter of the adults in Richmond and Scotland counties lack a high school diploma. Not only is it difficult to find a job without a diploma or GED, it’s difficult to recruit industry to our area when today’s jobs require people to have higher skill sets than ever before.
“We are committed to helping the people of Scotland and Richmond counties gain the skills they need to become employable,” said RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis. “In addition to free GED classes, we also offer free classes that prepare them to take the WorkKeys assessment to earn a North Carolina Career Readiness Certificate. Armed with these two credentials, their chances for employment are greatly improved. We’re encouraging anyone without a high school diploma to contact us today for help in improving their quality of life.”