Changes come to high school equivalency diploma

Staff Reports • Updated Jan 15, 2014 at 10:43 PM

Rosario Velazquez was home schooled, but she needed a high school equivalency diploma in order to fulfill her dream of attending college.

In late 2012, she began taking the free preparation classes offered at the Adult Learning Center in Lebanon. In July 2013, she was awarded her high school equivalency diploma.

In January, Velazquez started classes at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin. She plans to study sociology and hopes to return to Mexico to be a social worker for children and the elderly.

She is complimentary of the Adult Learning Center and especially grateful to her mom and family for their support and encouragement about her future.

“This is a great school with nice people and lots of support, Velazquez said. “I always felt comfortable here.”

She credits her parents with instilling in her the importance of education. She is excited about entering college. Velazquez encouraged anyone who does not have his or her high school equivalency diploma to visit the Adult Learning Center at 107 N. Greenwood to take advantage of the free classes offered.

In addition to Lebanon, free classes are also available in Old Hickory, Mt. Juliet, Watertown, Carthage and Hartsville.

Jan. 1 brought several changes in getting a high school equivalency diploma. Since its inception, the General Educational Development was the only accepted high school equivalency program. Originally a nonprofit organization, this year it was privatized, resulting in several changes to the new test.  The new GED will be primarily computer based and oriented more for the college-bound student, which ALC instructors said makes the test more difficult.

Many states, including Tennessee, elected to seek other alternatives since not all individuals wishing to get a high school equivalency diploma want to continue to college, but are more interested in career readiness.

For that reason, the High School Equivalency Test. The same nonprofit organization that offers the ACT exam designed the HSE test. Tennessee colleges will accept HSE test results, so college-bound students can take either the GED or HSE. It’s offered in both computer- or paper-based form, and the cost is $75.

Regardless of which test a student decides to take, the Adult Learning Center teachers are available to prepare them for the tests. Few of those seeking a HSE diploma enter the ALC ready to take a high school equivalency test.

With classes in Carthage, Hartsville, Lebanon, Old Hickory, Mt. Juliet and Watertown, the ALC is a nonprofit organization, so all classes are free.

Any adult wanting to pursue a diploma may contact the ALC central office at 615-443-8731.

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