GED students come in all shapes, sizes, colors, economic backgrounds, aspirations, abilities, and capabilities, ranging from being academically gifted to possessing skills below the level necessary for success in college-level courses.
They have chosen the GED path for a variety of reasons:
Some decided school was not for them and dropped out; others were embarrassed because of their poor academic performance and chose not to pursue a diploma, and others needed to take on more of the financial responsibility for the family and left school to seek employment. Adult education programs that offer GED preparation courses need to understand some of the potential barriers in order to create strategies to overcome them.
There is an understanding by those who complete their GED that higher education is beneficial. However, very few actually go on to higher education, and of those who do, very few are successful. Several areas of concern have been identified through the limited number of studies that have been conducted on the GED graduates who choose the community college route.
Area of Concern
These areas of concern include the need to address the aspects of inadequate academic preparation; financial constraints due to limited knowledge of and/ or access to financial aid; lost wages by those who may have to cut back on hours of employment to access education; the need for effective strategies to manage the competing demands of work, family/relationships, childcare needs and school; difficulty navigating the educational process; and personal and psychological barriers, especially the lack of confidence in personal ability and the need for personal and career counseling. Many GED graduates who are entering a higher education institution (HEI) have little or no money saved to help pay for tuition or books. This is vital for GED students as they move to the next level in their career path. It is imperative that HEIs take initiative and play an active role in addressing these barriers. If the barriers are not identified, understood, and assessed to make the necessary changes in higher education programs, GED students may become GED holders without future direction.
It is possible that students may have a plan that cannot be executed due to unpreparedness for barriers that present themselves after the student has received their GED certificate. Identifying the barriers that negatively impact the number of GED students who are able to matriculate into college is important in a variety of ways. Unless the United States makes some fundamental adjustments in its national strategies for the education of adults, labor force attainment will stagnate, productivity will lag, and economic growth will suffer. These barriers have a potentially negative impact on all of society due to the lack of proper investment in time, finances, and resources to assist GED students.
Although previous research has identified several barriers that GED students encounter prior to matriculation, it is less well known how adult GED students overcome barriers prior to matriculation and during the first year of transitioning into higher education. The gap in the literature will be the focus of this study.