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Georgia Piedmont Tech Provides Bridge from GED to College
August 17, 2012
It's not unusual for one who earns a GED diploma or certificate to view achieving that accomplishment as an end in and of itself. He or she has achieved a goal of personal fulfillment and realized the milestone opportunity to continue education, obtain employment or advance in the workforce. But Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) offers a program that helps move its GED graduates a step further—to the next one, that is.
The Next Step Program is one of many programs offered through GPTC's Adult Education Services, including Adult Basic Education, English Literacy, Workplace Community Education, Civics/Citizenship Classes and GED Testing.
The Next Step Program provides assistance in helping individuals who have earned their GED diploma to make the successful transition into Georgia Piedmont Tech's credit courses. Through intensive one-on-one support, students are guided through the College's admissions process, provided with financial-aid counseling, career and vocational counseling, along with other support services (like preparing for the Compass (assessment) test). Program participants are also able to attend workshops that address these areas.
The catalyst for Next Step's creation grew out of a Georgia statewide meeting of adult education directors during which the question was posed: 'Why don't we do anything to help adults access postsecondary education?' With adult education programs at all of Georgia's technical colleges at the time, program directors believed they were missing key opportunities to actively recruit this largely underrepresented group of potential students.
"Our mission is to guide students through the Adult Education programs into sustainable employment and/or secondary education," says Dr. Martha Coursey, dean of Georgia Piedmont Tech's Adult Education program. "We want our GED students, and indeed all of our Adult Education students, to know that we are here to help them in their quest for higher education."
The notion of what one can do after completing a GED credential has evolved greatly over time.
"When I first started working in the adult education field, it seemed the goal for many [GED students] was to get your GED and go have a good life," says Coursey. "But we want those getting their GED today, to realize that this is not the end—it is just the beginning."
Next Step Program Transitions Specialist Hazel Simmons adds that the word beginning translates literally for many students getting their GED credential at the College. She says Next Step takes students from the very beginning–for example, explaining to them what a college credit is. She also assists them with matching their interests with career possibilities and goal-setting.
"In addition to counseling students, I help them with setting educational goals and establishing a time frame for being admitted into the College," says Simmons, who is based at the College's Community Education Center location. "I am that link between the Adult Education and the credit side, in that I can help them through the system on this side."
Simmons says many of the College's international students find that the education credentials they have earned outside the United States are not recognized here.
"A great number of our GED students have never attended college, anywhere, before. So they don't possess the necessary college-survival skills or know-how to access the system from the outside," says Simmons. "And about 50 percent of our GED students are international students—many who have never attended or encountered U.S. school systems."
So, she says, many of these students are starting from scratch, at the GED level, to gain access to the U.S. educational system in their effort to ultimately achieve their educational, and career goals.
"Whether or not an individual comes through our programs, here at Georgia Piedmont Tech, as long as an individual earned a GED diploma or certificate, we will work them to get them on their pathway to success," says Simmons.
However, a student's relationship with the Next Step Program does not end upon his or her completion of the program; he or she continues to receive the dedicated, one-on-one counseling through the completion of the first semester of instruction. This, says Simmons, gives them the necessary support they need to navigate the college system more easily.
In 2011, 1,432 people earned their GED from Georgia Piedmont Tech. One out of every five GED graduates transitioned into the college's credit program. As of the Spring 2012 semester, a total of 293 (20.5%) of 2011 GED graduates were taking courses in various GPTC credit programs. In 2011, the Technical College System of Georgia enrolled some 100,000 students in adult education programs and 18,000 of those Georgians proudly earned their GED credential, opening doors to increased earning potential, higher education, and better lives. Another 36,000 men and women enrolled in the state's English-language programs.
Next Step services are available at the following GPTC locations: DeKalb Campus, Regional Transportation Center, Rockdale Career Academy, Newton Campus, Madison Campus and Paul M. Starnes Center.
For more information on the Next Step program, contact Transitions Specialist Hazel Simmons at (770) 883-0497 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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About Georgia Piedmont Technical College
A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.