GED program prepares people for job opportunities
Just months from his 60th birthday, Prescott Valley resident John Hutton is close to reaching a personal goal: earning a GED (General Education Development) certificate.
Hutton said he dropped out of school in the middle of the ninth grade. "I was smoking cigarettes and chasing girls. I no longer smoke cigarettes," he quipped.
Hutton is one of a growing number of adults who are returning to school to earn a GED.
Karen Carlisle, the GED program director at Yavapai College, said the college offers semester classes for GED preparation.
Enrollment in the free GED program begins with a call or visit to the Adult Basic Education Center at the college.
Carlisle said staff members counsel potential students and ask questions to determine whether being in the GED program would benefit them.
"If a person passed the 10th grade, they will generally pass the GED test. However, most people have low math skills and need to prepare for the test," Carlisle said.
The director said the GED classes are always full and there is always a waiting list. Carlisle said registration begins in May for the fall semester.
Anyone registered in the GED program must attend an orientation and complete an assessment test.
Carlisle said the Test of Adult Basic Education is required for the college to receive federal money for the GED program.
Yavapai College offers the GED class in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, the Yavapai College Career and Technical Education Center and the Verde Valley.
Micah Mutter, 17, dropped out of school when she realized she would not have enough credits to graduate.
"I knew I wanted to get my GED when I dropped out of school," Mutter said.
Although Mutter said she has struggled with the math portion of the program, she wants to become a nurse. She enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program at the college.
Cheryl Casey is a GED instructor and program coordinator for the Prescott area.
Casey said students attend class twice a week for three hours a day.
"Typically, math is the most difficult (for students). It is the subject that requires the most work because if you don't use it, you forget," she said.
Casey said people take GED classes for three reasons.
Older students enroll to improve job opportunities. They also do not want to lie on job applications.
Young people take GED classes because their parents want them to or they have a goal of attending college.
In some cases, Casey said, "A GED program is court-ordered."
The final reason is a personal goal. Casey said it bothers some people that they never finished high school.
Hutton said most of his life he worked as an iron fitter, welder and fabricator.
"I had some good jobs because I had a talent. I don't need a GED, but I have grandchildren and I thought it might mean something that grandpa went back to school at 60," Hutton said. "I am amazed by what I remember - and what I have forgotten."
Hutton is embarking on a new career. In addition to the GED program, he takes automotive classes at C-TEC.
The GED program prepares students for tests in five areas: math, writing skills, reading and language arts, science and social studies.
Testing officials administer the test in two parts, and students must achieve a minimum score for each test. Casey said students must obtain an average score for all five tests to earn a GED certificate.
Anyone interested in the Yavapai College GED program should contact the Adult Basic Education program at 776-2320.