Let’s get something clear right off the bat. Having your GED is NOT a bad thing. Trying to achieve your GED is NOT a bad thing. Please don’t ever let someone make you feel bad about having a GED. Neither Jay-Z or Beyonce have a GED… just saying. Getting a H.S. diploma is easy. But having the grit, the courage, and the determination to get your GED… that’s difficult. Here at Summit Academy OIC we congratulate anyone who has ever received or even attempted getting their GED.
Now that that’s settled, we recently found an article that we want to share with all of you.
Read the full original article here by Rose DF.
“It is often said that knowledge is power. This motto could be held no higher than in the world of higher education”.
It’s no secret that academia in the United States is crawling with elitism, especially in science. Pursuing a career in the sciences has long been associated with natural inclinations for topics like math, or with being born a kind of genius. Although it is true that there have been, and certainly are, geniuses out there who fall into the bracket of “natural brilliance”, the reality is that a lot of intelligent and highly educated people in science fall outside of this spectrum.
We need to rethink a lot of the notions sustained in academia today: what mold to fit, which path one should take, and how anything that deviates from the linear paths in education can mean automatic failure from the vantage point of the academic ivory tower. A very good example of false academic equivalence is the many stigmas suffered by people who earn a GED in the U.S.
I should know, because I’m one of them.
Getting your GED vs. your high school diploma
The General Educational Development (GED) is a general education equivalency test resulting in a diploma for students who do not complete traditional high school. I came to live in the U.S. permanently from the Dominican Republic when I was in my teens, and I had finished what we consider high school back in my motherland. But once here, I was told I would be held back three years because I did not speak English. I decided to leave high school and ended up earning a GED — to the absolute horror of everyone I knew.
One of the very few lessons I learned — none of them academic — while attending high school in the U.S. was that earning a GED instead of a high school diploma made you an irrevocable failure. Unflattering views on the GED are not only elitist opinions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school diploma holders earn about $1,600 more a month than GED recipients. Less than 5% of GED holders go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, vs. 33% of people with high school diplomas. It doesn’t stop there. An American Council of Education study claims that as many as 77% of GED holders do not complete more than their first semester of college.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get their GED?
I started to wonder just how many people out there have a GED, and how far it has taken them. Eventually, I came across a post on Twitter by TheDapperDean, the nom de plume of Rolundus R. Rice, the first GED holder from Auburn University to earn a PhD, who now works at Alabama State University.
He inspired me to show people how wrong certain stereotypes can be when it comes to different paths people take in the pursuit of knowledge.
For example, I’ve always loved education, but the system has consistently failed me. I ended up in an abusive domestic partnership during high school and walked away from both my partner and school — because of my desire to pursue higher education. I became homeless as a result. Every night I slept in train stations, cleaned myself in public restrooms, and showed up for training I had thankfully found as a home health aide. The fact that we had to wear scrubs — which were paid for by the organization — meant I had something to wear every day. I worked 12 hours shifts, six days a week for $7.25/hour until I saved enough to get off the streets and into a room.
I still dreamed of studying science. I decided to change tack so that I could earn more money and maybe finance my way through college. First, I got my GED, and then I earned an associate’s degree in applied sciences with a focus in medical assisting. Unfortunately, the pay wasn’t much better, and I was now in debt from student loans. But, I didn’t give up.
I kept searching for affordable education. When I finally found a public institution in New York City within my budget, I decided to go for it. Even though I was told I wasn’t a “traditional student” in the U.S., I didn’t listen and enrolled anyway. I am now continuing my studies in physics at SUNY Empire State College in order to move on to graduate studies in space biophysics — as well as advocating for more accessible and inclusive education. I’ve also been told that I’m the only known Dominican to attempt to train as an astronaut candidate.
I decided to talk about it on Twitter, along with many others who continued the dialogue Rice started.
My absolute favorite of all the replies, and perhaps the most surprising to me, was definitely from Jacquelyn Gill. She is a prominent Ice Age ecologist and professor at the University of Maine, cohost of the Warm Regards podcast, and a very well known science communicator in the “science Twitter” universe, where she helps facilitate a public understanding of climate science and conservation.
“The experience of sharing personal GED stories was so uplifting and empowering, and it makes me wonder how, with all of these brilliant GED holders out there, the stereotypes are still running strong.
We need more of these personal stories to continue to bust these myths.”
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