Getting ahead by getting a GED

March 19, 2009 9:25:26 PM PDT
As a steady flow of workers are shown the door to the unemployment line, a record number of Americans are skipping their new job search and heading back to the classroom.

People who never graduated high school are now competing with people who lost high paying jobs and who have degrees.

New York City's Department of Education program saw a 15 to 20 percent spike this school year in people walking through their doors wanting a GED.

After a couple years in the workforce, Shaunta Vanderhorst quickly realized her dead end job was just that.

She got pregnant her senior year and didn't get a high school diploma.

"I was so close to finishing," Vanderhorst said with tears in her eyes. "It was just a real setback and it hurt."

Her two year old son motivated her to get a GED through the board of education's free program.

She hopes to finish her coursework this summer at the Manhattan hub in Midtown and get into college to become a lawyer.

"Everybody here supports me 100 percent more than my own family," Vanderhorst said.

After seeing almost triple the number of people, several New York City programs have waiting lists for GED classes, but the board of education's program has plenty of room for anyone who's interested.

"We do believe that it's never too late to come back. We have so many inspirational stories to prove that. It's real in this job market," Cami Anderson, senior superintendent of Alternative High Schools and Programs, said.

Potential students start at the Referral Center. They first take an example then sit down with a counselor who helps them to set goals.

Victor Rodriguez has his sights set on a business degree and career in the music industry.

Minimum wage jobs didn't get him any closer to his dream. Counselor Michele Mohammed did.

"He was here like clockwork. He was here early everyday. The next thing I knew, he got a job here. He said because of you, I'm here now. I'm working," Mohammed said.

RESOURCES

To learn more about the GED program in New York City, visit:
http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/District79/SchoolsProgramsServices/default.htm

More information about taking the GED in the Tri-State area can be found on the net at these locations:

New York:
http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ged/

New Jersey:
http://www.state.nj.us/education/students/ged/

Connecticut:
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2620&Q=320688&sdePNavCtr=|#45490


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