Since we opened The Goodwill Excel Center, a tuition-free adult charter high school, we’ve heard countless stories from people who have walked through its doors to finish their high school education. These stories can vary but the vast majority of them have at least two consistent elements: They didn’t complete high school the first time and their goal was to change that outcome.
Going back to school is hard. Very hard in most cases. Finding ways to effectively balance the many responsibilities that come with being an adult and continuing one’s education is no small feat. But there are ways to make it happen.
Here are some things to consider if you or someone you know is planning to go back and complete their high school education:
High school diploma or GED?
How close were you to finishing high school? If you were only a few credits short when you left high school the first time then enrolling in an adult education program that will award you the credits you need to graduate is probably the course to take. Keep in mind any program that requires participation in classes will be more time consuming. A GED, in many cases, does not hold the same weight as a diploma when it comes to potential employers or if you plan on furthering your education beyond high school. But it does offer a little more flexibility in that your goal is to pass the GED Exam, not pass high school.
Online or in-classroom?
In deciding this, I would ask yourself, “Which learning environment will best facilitate your success?” and “What is the current state of your personal and professional life?”. Some community colleges will offer high school completion programs. Many state’s departments of education will also have resources and means to enroll in programs as well. Some areas will have adult high schools (like The Goodwill Excel Center) but many adults will find an online program more convenient. The ability to study and work within their own schedule will provide them the flexibility they need to balance life and school. Although, at the Goodwill Excel Center, students are encouraged to not work so they can focus and be committed to their studies.
Is the program legitimate?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there when it comes to adult education. This is especially true when it comes to online programs. Like many things, the rule of thumb for education is if it seems too good to be true… it probably is. There are plenty of red flags to consider when searching through adult education options: If the program asks for a lot of money up front, there is a lot of pressure to enroll, there is a lack of student services available, just to name a few. If you note any of these, be wary. An article in US News and World Report published in 2015 expands on these warning signs and others.
Do you have a game plan?
Adding education to the already full plate of responsibilities that usually come with adulthood is challenging. In order to be successful you need to be honest with yourself about what it is going to take to accomplish this goal and plan accordingly. There is going to be stress. There will be roadblocks along the way. But if you plan appropriately, you’ll quickly learn that roadblocks will only lead to detours, not cliffs. The Goodwill Excel Center has coaches onsite to help our students overcome challenges and achieve success with the proper support system. Make sure you intentionally seek people out.
Do you believe in yourself?
It’s a simple concept but not one that should be taken lightly. Every single person is capable of far more than they realize. But they must be willing to see that within themselves if they are going to step outside their comfort zone. Have faith and you will succeed.
The Goodwill Excel Center was the logical next step in the expansion of our mission of transforming lives and communities through the power of education and employment. Most job training programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED and we wanted to provide the populations we serve with all the tools they need to compete in today’s workforce.
That being said, The Goodwill Excel Center may not be for everyone but there are options out there. If you or someone you know is looking to complete their high school education we encourage you to consider these points and assess all of the options. And, if you decide The Goodwill Excel Center is the best option for you, we look forward to helping you achieve your goals.