Defying the GED Stigma

GED is an acronym that translated to failure when I was growing up. A person getting a GED was viewed as someone who would never amount to more than a fast-food worker. At least that was what I was told when I withdrew from high school in my Senior year and opted to go for my GED.

I Was Definitely a Walking Cliché

For context, its important to know that I was 17, recently learned I was pregnant and the idea of a traditional senior year in high school was so far from my vision. My counselor tried to encourage me to attend Polly McCabe School for Girls; but the idea of being a shamed pregnant teen isolated from public school did not feel anymore appealing than a GED. Initially I had decided on the local Adult Education Center. However, after a week of falling asleep in what was very remedial classes for me, I dropped out of Adult Ed too.

I know what you must be thinking right now.

Probably exactly what my mom and my close friends were thinking at the time: ‘what is wrong with you?’ I was a pregnant, hormonal 17 year old who was poorly processing trauma and trying to fathom a baby growing inside of her. That was what was wrong with me. I was too depressed to focus on basic math and literature.

But it wasn’t all a loss. Exactly 2 years later, 9 months after I moved to Philly; I seized the opportunity to go to Job Corp. I had the support of my daughter’s donor’s family to watch her while I worked at Wal-Mart and attended school. Now, Job Corp was a circus act for many reasons. However, I did manage to complete my CNA certification while there as well as skip all of the remedial GED classes and just tried my luck at the GED test. I passed with flying colors on my first try; a whopping 2990 which translated to Honors.

The Misleading Myths About GEDs

Everyone around me seemed to be full of jokes about obtaining a GED. They thought it meant the recipient was dumb, lacked intelligence, lazy and should just prepare fore a career in retail. What they didn’t understand is how rigorous the GED test actually was. While it was not necessarily challenging for me (except math because I sucked at it) because I had a strong academic career up until dropping out; it can be rather formidable to those who had academic struggles or challenging school careers for whatever the reason. Its not the SATs by a long shot but it tests your academic acuity and college readiness just the same.

My test scores proved I was beyond college ready. Had I understood the significance of my scores at the time, I would have followed through with my enrollment at Temple University and gotten everyscholarship I was eligible for and even received college credits for my score. Because yes, if you receive a GED you can absolutely receive college credits if you score within a specific range.

I was told repeatedly by “well meaning” but misinformed folk that my lack of college education coupled with having a GED would be a stain on my resume. For years I stifled myself. I refused to apply for jobs that I knew I was more than qualified to perform because I truly believed the stigma surrounding having a GED. With my husband’s encouragement while we were still dating, I began to start looking for employment that was more than being a cashier because it was not what I wanted for myself.

How It Turned Out for Me

After I stopped thinking of myself as less than my contemporaries who had high school diplomas vs my GED; things went exceedingly well. As it turns out, I never had one employer care about my GED. Not one. I’ve been asked about what my focus of studies were at Job Corp, I’ve been asked about the college education I do have, I’ve been asked about my work experience and even what my goals and plans for my future were. But I’ve NEVER been told that I was not adequate for a position because I had a GED.

I have had the pleasure of growing professionally over the years. While my journey was not the traditional one, it led me to a great place that I feel content with. And I wouldn’t be here had I not received my GED.

The Wrap Up

The world will tell you many things about education, what makes you successful or worthy. The school system is designed to emphasize these ideologies as well. However, unexpected things happen in life all the time, even during teen years! How you complete your high school education matters very little as much as just completing it does. No matter how old you are or where you are in life; if you have decided to complete your GED, it is not some sentence to go nowhere; it is a beginning to many possibilities that can take you anywhere.

Keep going champ.

Until next time,