Students sought for GED classes at RLC Murphy-Wall Campus
PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. (July 9, 2013) – Though there are already several locations for Rend Lake College's Adult Education and Family Literacy program, the search has begun for potential students to attend Pinckneyville's Murphy-Wall campus for a GED program this fall.
Adult Education and Family Literacy Director Christina Hutcheson said that the services would be a benefit to the surrounding community.
"We have offered GED classes in Pinckneyville in the past but enrollment dropped off so much that we cancelled the class. We have tried several times to revive the class without any success," she said. "Each year the Adult Education Program is required to submit statistics about the number of undereducated adults living in the college district. After completing that research, I know that there are numerous adults in Pinckneyville that need a GED. Without a high school diploma or equivalent individuals are much more likely to end up unemployed or living in poverty."
Some of the statistics Hutcheson has uses to determine the number of undereducated adults in RLC's district includes a report by the Social IMPACT Research Center out of Chicago on poverty.
The report states that, in all of Perry County, the poverty rate is at 18.5 percent, an increase of 1.1 percent from 2010 to 2011. The number of people living in poverty is 3,650 for the entire county, or an increase of 6.3 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Furthermore, high school graduation rates for low-income students for the 2011-2012 academic year was 70.4 percent, an increase from the previous academic year by 3.3 percent.
Additional information found in a report by Director of the Department of Economics and Finance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville David E. Ault, states that a total of 12,043 Perry County residents live in RLC's district. Of those, 426 have less than a 9th grade education and 1,383 have less than a 12th grade education.
A report from Pinckneyville Community High School's Illinois School Report Card from 2012 further proves the need for the class as the school's 4-year graduation rate came in at 81.7 percent of students out of 443. The percentage increases to 83.6 percent with a 5-year graduation rate.
Hutcheson said it is these people who she is trying to assist with the GED program.
"The first step to a better future for non-graduates is obtaining a GED certificate and now is the time to get it. In January 2014, the GED tests are changing from a pencil and paper version to a computerize version and the testing fee will go from $50 to $130. Any student who has passed part of the current GED test will have to start over in January. We are trying very hard to get the word out so that it is possible for students to compete the tests before the changes take place," said Hutcheson.
One student helped by RLC's GED program is Alan Fox of Sesser who attended classes in the fall of 2010 and received his GED in 2011 after being out of school for 27 years.
Fox was the owner and operator of his own flooring business prior to taking the GED classes at Pinckneyville Hospital; however, he said that it was the motivation to do something new that got him enrolled.
"I ran my own business as a flooring contractor, but my body was getting too old for it and I knew I needed to make a change," he said. "I decided to pursue a GED, to make it through there and go to college. I took the course, and I was nervous about taking the test, but I found out in March that I passed it all."
After receiving his GED, Fox was employed at Continental Tire of the Americas in Mt. Vernon, before leaving the job to attend RLC full-time.
"Right now, I'm doing two prep classes and, in the fall, I will start my Culinary Arts Associate's Degree. I like to cook and it's something I'm pretty good at," he said. "After that, I'm not really sure yet. I'm thinking about going on to a Bachelor's Degree."
Fox added that, though a lot had changed in the almost three-decades he had been out of the education realm, the GED course at RLC helped fill in the gaps.
"From back when I was in school, a lot has changed. The math is way more advanced than when I was in high school, and then there was stuff that I never even remembered. My weaknesses were in math, and I spent a lot of time working on writing essays. I had never written an essay before that class," he said. "I did better than what I thought I would and it was a big change for me."
Though Fox took the GED course at Pinckneyville Hospital, the class is no longer available at that location. Classes are offered in Benton, Christopher, McLeansboro and Mt. Vernon.
Hutcheson said that the courses take time and dedication, but are of no cost to the student.
"Teachers work closely with students to ensure they are ready to test, and then students register for a test date with the local Regional Office of Education. A new and exciting benefit for those attending the Adult Education Program is that Rend Lake College will grant a tuition waiver for up to 48 hours of coursework to qualifying students. Program coordinators are available to assist students with transitioning to college," she said.
The Adult Literacy and Family Literacy program is designed to assist adults in becoming literate, obtaining knowledge and skills necessary for employment and self-sufficiency, obtaining the educational skills necessary to become full partners in their children's education and completing their secondary school education.