Journey to GED and Beyond
For many who have just earned their GED, the certificate represents a significant milestone along their educational journey. Although, their journey may have encountered some roadblocks along the way such as “poor performance in school, lack of discipline or effort, undiagnosed learning disabilities, a dislike for their educational environment, boredom with traditional learning models, teen pregnancy, lack of parental support, or drug and alcohol addictions” (Beltran, 2002), their ability to identify and overcome their individual pitfalls afford them the many educational opportunities enjoyed by their high school graduating class such as military education programs, vocational training, and postsecondary education.
A high school diploma or GED certificate is required by all branches of the United States military to enlist. The percentages of GED recipients vary by service branch from as low a 1% up to 10% (Thornburgh, 2006). The Department of Defense predicates these low percentages on the possible recurrence of the aforementioned roadblocks. “Their studies show that half of all alternative credential holders, typically GED holders or correspondence course graduates, quit or are expelled from the Armed Forces before the end of their first tour of duty. At an estimated $40,000 to replace each enlistee, recruiting a GED holder is an expensive gamble” (Thornburgh, 2006). Therefore, for those of us fortunate enough to enlist, continuing our education and vocational training is part of our duty.
Vocational training can be obtained through various educational venues such as community or junior colleges, vocational technical schools, and within the United States military. The GED certificate is required for admission to community or junior colleges, vocational technical schools and, as previously established, the United States military. Within the colleges and schools, students can choose which occupational field they wish to study by completing an interest inventory to match skill with interest are simply based on desire to work in the trade. As part of the enlistment process, prospective military recruits must complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. This series of tests matches the recruits skills, abilities, and interests with various occupational specialties within each branch of the United States armed forces. Those of us who successfully complete our military vocational training are also awarded upper and lower level college credits pertaining to our specialty.
The GED certificate is required for transition into postsecondary education. However, statistics suggest that only “15% of GED recipients who go to college earn a degree” (Beltran, 2002). Students are provided with several avenues, along their educational journey capable of arriving at the same destination, college graduation. Some of these avenues are vocational and military credit, basic education remediation, or the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Colleges and universities will accept, as transfer credits, specific vocational and military credits as recommended by the American Council on Education for credits pertaining to specific degree plans. Basic education remediation is by far the most important. Even though we now have our GED certificate, this just proves we have a general knowledge of English, reading, writing, math, and social science. Now it is up to us as learners to pave the way of our educational journey. How do we do this? We enroll in remedial courses at our community or junior college. These remedial courses provide the bedrock from which our journey begins. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to complete the basic and intermediate English and math courses even if some of the material was just a review. Finally, credit can be earned for the course challenge exams such as those offered through CLEP. Credit will be awarded based on the student obtaining a minimum standard score. However, the college or university reserves the right to accept or deny the credit based on specific criteria as set forth by the institution.
The GED recipient is afforded the same educational opportunities as their high school graduate peer group. Earning a college degree can be achieved by different means such as military education programs, vocational training, and postsecondary education or a combination thereof. Regardless of the means or method, I am a firm advocate of “whatever the mind can conceive the will can achieve” (Roderick, 2009).
About the Author
Dr. R. Shane Creel is a ‘85 GED recipient. Dr. Creel enlisted in the United States Navy as a 9th grade dropout with a GED and retired 22 years later as a successful Naval Officer. While on active duty, Dr. Creel completed his Associates Degree with Park University, his Bachelors Degree with Regents College, his Masters Degree with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and his Doctor of Philosophy with Capella University. Dr. Creel is currently the Director of Risk Management at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Beltran, M.S. (2002). Education Articles: High School Diploma vs. GED in the Real World. Retrieved from http://www.essortment.com/family/highschooldipl_svan.htm
Roderick, H. (2009). Whatever the Mind Can Conceive the Will Can Achieve. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/12080348/Mind-Power-WHATEVER-THE-MIND-CAN-CONCEIVE-THE-WILL-CAN-ACHIEVE-
Thornburgh, N. (April 11, 2006). Does a GED Really do the Job? Time. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1182430,00.html