ST. GEORGE — Stevens Henager College, CollegeAmerica, and California College San Diego launched the Good Neighbor Initiative in 2011 to help make today’s work force ready for tomorrow’s opportunities by helping people gain their General Education Development certificate for high school equivalency.
The Good Neighbor Initiative is celebrating its one year anniversary. It is a community outreach service founded by the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, a nonprofit corporation that purposes to improve higher education.
Many colleges and universities have been unable or unwilling to provide financial assistance to prospective students to help them obtain their GED certificate; either a high school diploma or a GED certificate is a basic requirement of admission to most colleges and universities. The reason many schools have been unable or unwilling to provide financial assistance to those seeking their GED is that it appears to create a self-serving incentive for prospective students seeking higher education to enroll in their institution once they have completed the GED exam. Creating such incentives has been viewed unethical by the federal government in recent years.
To some in need of their GED certificate, $120 is expensive, the average cost of the GED exam. The Good Neighbor Initiative offers a way around that cost, and while it only works with Stevens Henager College, CollegeAmerica, and California College San Diego, it is separate from the admissions process within these institutions.
The accrediting body for Stevens Henager, CollegeAmerica, and California College San Diego is the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, which provides accreditation to non-university post-secondary colleges that mainly provide training for occupational, trade and technical careers. Stevens Henager recently shifted to this from a for-profit institution.
In its first year, the Good Neighbor Initiative helped 6,400 Utah residents by offering free education courses, GED prep classes and by covering the cost of the GED exam because Good Neighbor Initiative states that individuals with a GED credential have higher incomes and are more likely to get involved in the community and economy.
The Good Neighbor Initiative is offered in St. George via Stevens Henager College. Greg Stanfield, Dean of Education at Stevens Henager College in St. George, explains the process for people interested in obtaining their GED.
“They come in through our campus, meet with a receptionist, fill out paperwork, we find out where they’re at in their GED preparation,” Stanfield said. “We do an overview with them of what we do for our GED prep course.”
The next step in the process is to meet with Brandon Turley, GED coordinator Stevens Henager, to get pre-screened via an exam to see where the potential student needs the most help. “Brandon will let them know their score and tutor them Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.” Stanfield said. “He has a variety of reviews and hands-on concepts to help them.”
“We’ve found math is the most difficult,” Stanfield said. “Once the student is ready to take the GED exam they are given a voucher for Dixie State.”
The Good Neighbor Initiative program began in Stevens Henager College in August 2011 and since that time “240 have passed the GED test through our classes,” Stanfield said, “and we’ve had a 95 percent pass rate.”
According to the National Commission on Adult Literacy, each year more than one million Americans drop out of high school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2014, 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs will require education or training beyond the high school level.
Of the Stevens Henager Colleges in Utah, Stanfield said, “We have one of the highest success rates in St. George so there is a need in our community. The demand is there.”
Stanfield said it’s a positive way to provide community service and give back. “It changes lives,” Stanfield said. “We like to build dreams for people. For whatever reason they didn’t finish high school it won’t hold them back. We have a variety of people of various ages from 18 to their late 60s.”
Stanfield said that many students who pass the GED exam go on for higher education, and many do return to Stevens Henager. Stanfield said, “We provide the service without pressure to attend our school. Many have gone to the U of U, and Utah State, but if they have questions about the college afterward we provide that information, but the main focus is to get them a GED.”
Regarding the GED exam prompting people to gain higher education, Stanfield said, “You never know what it’s going to spark in a person’s life.”
According to reports studying economic outcomes for GED credential recipients by the General Educational Development Testing Service of the American Council on Education, people who have a high school diploma or GED credential are much more likely to be employed full time, and earn more than those without a high school diploma. They are also more likely to live healthier lives, make greater contributions to their economies and communities.
Center for Excellence in Higher Education website
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