Making College Real for GED® Preparation Students
Not long ago, the word college seemed like just a dream to most
of the GED® preparation students at Harris County Department of
Education (HCDE). Many of our students struggle with academics
in high school and face serious challenges such as unemployment
and lack of childcare options. To many, college after the
GED® credential was not perceived as a realistic option. Traditionally,
GED® preparation teachers felt their only goal was to get
GED® preparation students to pass the GED® test. Somebody
else would get them into college.
During the past year,
the adult education
program at HCDE developed
to foster a culture
of transition to postsecondary
We wanted this elusive
dream to become a
reality. Today collegeprep
the development of
GED® preparation fasttrack
options that allow
teachers to provide
targeted instruction for more
advanced students. Career counseling for GED® preparation students
is standard procedure. We provide follow-up with our GED®
credential completers. Our teachers and administrators benefit
from professional development which promotes student transition
While these strategies seem to be working, nothing is more successful
than developing a close working relationship with the community
college where the GED® preparation student may attend.
Over the past year, HCDE collaborated with student recruiter
Scott Godley, Houston Community College Division of Extended
Learning. Scott visited over 20 GED® preparation classes and
encouraged them to visit the campus.
At the Memorial Assistance Ministries, Scott brought the reality
of college into GED® preparation teacher Jackie Livingston's
classroom. The majority of her students had never set foot on a
college campus. College became real for our GED® preparation
students on Oct. 26, 2011. As part of collaboration between HCDE
and HCCS, 54 GED®
preparation students and
three GED® preparation
teachers visited the
College Spring Branch
campus. A tour of facilities
and a personalized
enabled students to
learn about credit and
The entire event was a
complete success. The GED® preparation students appreciated
the opportunity. The first-hand experience on the college campus
and information received gave our students the confidence and
knowledge to pursue further education. Their dreams were made
concrete. Many of them waited in line to talk to Scott after class
about their personal college plans.
GED® preparation students from the Spring Wood High School site shared these written thoughts after the campus visit:
Monica: "This visit had made a very big impact on me. I have
always wanted to be a medical assistant. Now I know I can start
taking classes at HCCS toward my career goal."
Alicia: "I was not thinking about job training and college before
taking the GED® preparation class. This campus visit had an impact
on my decision to get more training."
Osman: "I was thinking about college before taking the GED®
preparation class because I wanted to achieve a goal in my life
that I always dreamed of. The campus visit actually encouraged
me to continue with my education. I'm looking forward to obtaining
a certification in computer networking."
As a result of this experience, HCDE will make the college campus
visit a routine event for GED® preparation students in the
future. The campus visit empowers GED® preparation students to
literally visualize the college experience and to increase their level
of comfort with the notion that a transition to college is possible.
We believe that it is our business to help students transition to job
training and college after GED® credential so they can become
productive workers, parents and citizens.
About the Authors
May O'Brien is a program manager for Harris County Department of Education (HCDE), Adult Education Division. She has been supervising adult education programs in Alief and Spring Branch area since 2004. Currently, she is in Leadership Excellence Academies Cohort 5.
Dr. Eduardo Honold has been the director of Harris County Department of Education, Adult Education Division since 2009. HCDE is one of the largest Adult Education programs in the State of Texas, serving about 10,000 adult learners annually.