We’re in the middle of a new student in-take at work. Last week I conducted an orientation with to adults, a man and woman, both in their 50s. Both with extremely low literacy levels.
Meeting these two students broke my heart. I mean I literally had to hold back tears just talking about them to my co-manager. I kept thinking, this could be my aunt or uncle. I just wanted get up from behind my desk and give them a hug. One of them has a very lofty goal she wants to accomplish. How do you tell someone that the one thing they’re trying to achieve to improve their circumstance will probably take years not weeks, if it happens at all? Or imagine if you were in your 50s and couldn’t spell the name of your closest loved one or the name of the city in which you’ve lived your entire life?
I love the humbleness of these two students and the fact that they are seeking help. My prayer is that they don’t give up. Sometimes life gets in the way. I see it everyday. Students who are so close to their goal get distracted by life or the fear or actually succeeding. It’s the latter that drives me insane and frustrates me.
A few months ago I watch a documentary on HIV. They interviewed a doctor who was discussing a patient who was HIV positive but had no plans of telling her partners and wasn’t using protection. When asked her thoughts on the patient, the doctor working in an inner city hospital, she had to change her thought process. She couldn’t apply what would be a rational decision for herself, but what was rational for her patient and the lives they live. That statement really struck me. I often come home with stories of my students and things they’ve done or situations they’re in. I’m always telling Hubby how I just don’t understand some of the choices my students make. He always responds in the same way, “Jen not every one thinks the way you do.”
I want my students to have more choices down the road. I think obtaining their GED leads them on a path to those choices. When the economy tanked, many students found themselves laid off and out of work. Then they were met with a brick wall when they discovered they couldn’t get back in the job market without a high school diploma or GED. So, they came to us. Then, jobs started hiring and they quit school, without a GED, yet again, to take a dead end job. Notice the cycle? I don’t care if they’re working at a fast food restaurant or the dollar store. I want them to have options. The option of being a manager of that fast food restaurant, the option of taking a job they want to do as opposed to one they have to do. However, many of my students are more concerned with now and not down the road. I them to understand there can be a balance between the two.
Let’s face it, times have changed. Nowadays, it’s very rare, if not impossible, for a person to get a good job making decent money without a high school diploma or GED. Hell, you can’t be a custodian at a school in my county without a high school diploma AND a WorkKeys certificate. I’m not pushing every one to go to college, but I am pushing every one to at least get your diploma or the equivalent. Changing your thought process can create options.
*In December of 2013, the current version of the GED test will expire and so will the scores of over 1 million people who have started the test, but haven’t completed it!. If you or someone you know are one of those people, I urge you to finish the test now! You won’t have to re-take any parts of the test you’ve passed. Only 4 out of 10 current high school students can pass the GED test in the form in which it is given today. I’ve seen samples of the new test and…well… it’s not getting any easier.*