Easy Way Out?
Many dropouts think that getting a GED is easier than returning to high school to get a diploma. But how easy is it? I wanted to get a clearer picture of what it takes to get a GED, so I talked to April Mojica, 34, who took seven years to get hers.
NYC: Why did you choose to get your GED?
So when I was coming up in New York City, I didn’t attend school much. When I did, I found I didn’t have any of the skills. I never got the foundation that I needed, like my times tables and grammar. I didn’t know how to tell time until I was 19. I never finished one year of school before I went to college.
NYC: Did you attend high school?
But I didn’t have the skills to keep up. I was so frustrated and embarrassed. I started getting distracted and cutting, and within a month I stopped going. I went back on my own and was homeless for a number of years, working little jobs in the film industry.
NYC: How did you prepare for the GED exams?
On my way to take the GED test the first time, I actually went to a clinic first and took a pregnancy test. The pregnancy test was positive. Then I went and took GED test, and I didn’t learn until many months later, till I was almost about to give birth, that I’d failed by five points in math. That was my first attempt, in 1990. I didn’t succeed in getting my GED until 1997.
After I had my baby, I went to other programs, but things would happen—the baby would get sick and I would use up the number of absences I could have and be expelled from the programs.
NYC: How many different programs did you try?
But I had a really short time to do it. It was a seven-week program, but I went in when they only had three weeks left and they discouraged me from joining the program because if I failed I wouldn’t be able to come back for another year. But I chose to take on the challenge and fortunately, I succeeded that time. That was in 1997, when I was 26.
NYC: How did the GED programs help you?
NYC: What did you do after getting your GED?
NYC: What are you doing now?
I started working for a company two weeks ago as an events planner. I’m hoping to go to school next semester at George Mason University to get a master’s degree in English with a concentration in teaching literature for community college. I plan on going for my Ph.D.
Hopefully within a little over a year, I’ll be teaching at a community college. I think that’s a great place to catch people at—a little unsure of themselves and in need of support and motivation. I think I could bring my own experience to this educational game.
NYC: How are you doing things differently with your daughter?
I chose to bring her to Fairfax County where my sister lives, a rich county with great schools. I’m taking her education seriously—seriously enough to uproot my entire life and take it to a strange place with a great public school system.
NYC: What was it like raising a daughter on your own and trying to prepare for the GED at the same time?
NYC: Do you have any advice for someone who’s considering getting their GED?
It’s really important that students today realize that these opportunities they have now, they may not have tomorrow. They’re running over falling bridges, and they’d better hasten their step.
NYC: What would you say to teens who think getting a GED is easier than finishing high school?
"April Mojica is currently pursuing a master's degree in English Literature at George Mason University."