Joint GED venture to provide opportunity for area community

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AUBURN – Auburn University has opened a Graduate Equivalency Diploma program that will be housed in Wallace Hall and offered free of charge on a first-come-first-served basis.

A partnership between Auburn University and Southern Union State Community College, the GED program will open educational and employment opportunities to area residents and university staff members who are currently without high school diplomas.

James Witte, associate professor and adult and higher education program coordinator in the College of Education, said the GED program will make a profound difference in the lives of those who choose to enter it. While Auburn’s unemployment rate is low – 7.9 percent in September 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor – in comparison to other state communities, Witte said many individuals with jobs may be under-employed as the result of not having obtained a high school diploma.

“It’s an opportunity to develop a stronger workforce and, for those who participate, will provide the gateway into further skill training at Southern Union, the opportunity to pursue higher education, or just to complete a high school education as a matter of self-improvement,” Witte said. “This is an opportunity to progress.”

Evening courses will be taught each Thursday by Southern Union staff member Georgia Love, who graduated from Auburn with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in collaborative teacher education. Coursework will be tailored to each student based on the results of aptitude tests. Witte said the GED program will likely offer courses two nights per week during the spring 2012 semester.

Sheri Downer, head of the College of Education’s Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Technology, described Auburn’s role in the venture as “teaching the teachers how to effectively teach GED content to students.”

According to a U.S. Census community survey conducted from 2005-09, 92.8 percent of Auburn residents ages 25 and over have a high school degree or above. However, the lifetime earning potential of those individuals who fall into the 7.2-percent of have-nots is far lower. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that the average median income for individuals ages 18-67 who had not completed high school was approximately $23,000 in 2008, compared to $42,000 for individuals in the same age range who possessed at least a high school diploma or GED.

“The job you get or the profession you pursue depends on your skill, your ability, your self-motivation and your willingness to bring a viable service to the workplace,” Witte said.

Individuals who are interested in enrolling in the GED program may contact Witte at (334) 844-3054 or witteje@auburn.edu or Derika Griffin, director of adult education at Southern Union State Community College at (334)745-6437, ext. 5339 or dgriffin@suscc.edu.

(Written by Troy Johnson.)

Contact: Troy Johnson, College of Education, (334) 844-4468 (ltj0001@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)