Big changes are coming for the GED test: it becomes a more costly, online test Jan. 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 600 notices to people who have taken some of the tests and 30 people immediately contacted us to finish what they had started. 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,” said Lenae Thompson, GED & Adult High School Diploma Coordinator with Richmond Community College in Hamlet.
Thompson has worked with adult learners for nearly 25 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 is concerned the cost may rise to $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 currently have two students whose employers are supporting them by adjusting their work schedules so they can attend a crash course we’re offering. Ask your employer to work with you. 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 Thompson.
Math and writing are the two tests students wait until last to tackle. The GED instructors are patient and qualified to help students over these hurdles and reach success. 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.
Melinda Wall of Rockingham said she is going to finish this time. She passed two tests some years ago, but quit when she found a job. She received her notice from the college at a point in time when she was looking for new employment.
“All of the good jobs require you to have a high school diploma or GED. I want to be able to compete for those jobs, so I’m here. It’s not difficult once you get yourself here. It is a sacrifice you make to do what you have to do. The teachers are great, so there’s no reason for me not to finish,” she said.
Some students, like Tavian Izzo of Ellerbe, attend more than one class. Izzo spends two nights a week in RCC’s GED class at Ellerbe Middle School. Friday mornings find him diligently working at his own pace at the James Building in Hamlet.
“I’ve been taking classes for a year and passed one of the tests. I was out of school for two years before I came to these classes. I get help when I need it and move on through the books. I like the classes, teachers at both places are good, and they can explain things more than one way,” he said.
GED instructor Tammy Patrick is a GED graduate herself and earned her bachelor’s degree from Gardner-Webb University.
“I quit school because my family was poor and I needed to work. I know how students feel about coming back to school. I lied on job applications and was fearful of getting caught, so I got my GED and never looked back,” she said.
One thing Patrick is able to do for students is to teach them how to leave their problems at the door and focus on one thing: passing a GED test.
“I love this. I keep it real. If I don’t know an answer, I can find it. It amazes students that I’ll admit to not knowing something and then find it on the computer or elsewhere. Every day is different. I try to think outside the box to give them more than one way to approach something if they are finding difficulty in mastering a concept. I really care about these students,” she said.
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 Richmond and Scotland counties gain the skills they need to become employable,” said RCC President 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.”