CALAIS _ Tess Ftorek, Washington County Community College’s dean emeritus and former student support services counselor encourages anyone who may be thinking about getting their GED to do it now.
New changes in the federally-run program are going to make getting a GED a lot tougher, she said.
For those students who did not graduate from high school, GED or the General Equivalency Diploma was designed to mentor, guide and support students who want a job or plan to enter college. The program is under the auspices of the federal Department of Education through the American Council on Education.
For the past 15 years, Ftorek has been the head of WCCC’s GED program. Last year, more than 20 students were awarded their GED, although that number fluctuates each year. “I never know at any time if I am going to have two people testing in here or 10,” she said.
Ftorek said students come from diverse backgrounds. She said she has had students who dropped out of high school and went to work only to have their jobs eliminated years later and they now are in need of new directions. She said she has had single parents in the program who are looking for a better life for themselves and their children. “We have had it all,” she said.
But changes are happening.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, receiving a GED will be a little more complicated.
Next year, the pencils and papers used to take the test will be just a memory. Testing will be taken on computers, including the essay exam.
And there are more changes.
If you started the process but have not completed it by Dec. 31, 2013 you will have to start the entire process again….even if you have passed four of the five tests! It takes about three months from start to finish to complete the GED program. Ftorek is not sure how long it will take for someone to complete the program under the new rules.
Computers will be available on campus for students to take the pretest and final testing.
What is the solution?
Ftorek encourages anyone interested in getting their GED to apply now. Canadian applicants are welcome. The program is free at WCCC. “It is a real red flashing light to me for people to get in here now and get started,” she said.
GED testing is available twice a month now through the end of 2013. Testing begins at 9 a.m. for the GED and 12:30 for the required pre-test at the college. Students who are 17-years-old who wish to enroll in the GED program must have a note from the superintendent in their school district that they qualify for the program. “I would never ever encourage anyone to drop out of school to get their GED. If they are in school, I want them to stay in school,” she said.
There will be a summer program at WCCC.
In addition, Literacy Volunteers of Washington County in collaboration with the Machias Adult Education as Countywide Adult Learning and Literacy/Dennysville also will be providing free adult education assistance in the form of tutoring support for GED preparation, computer assistance for beginners and basic adult literacy services and assistance as well as regularly scheduled Literacy Awareness and Tutor preparation mini-workshops. For more information about that program call 255-0344 or 726-4750
For more information about the WCCC program contact the college at 454-1000.