By Steve Koehler
Cindy Tuttle has never looked back from the decision she made more than 10 years ago.
After dropping out of high school and raising two children, Tuttle returned to school, earned her GED certificate at Ozarks Technical Community College but didn’t stop there.
She continued her education at OTC, gained her Associates of Arts degree in business and went to work for the College 10 years ago, where she now is the Secretary to the Dean of Student Services.
“I could never see myself in college but I gave it a try,” Tuttle said.
More and more area residents, victims of layoffs and business closings, are giving the GED program a try as they face a nearly impossible uphill climb to gain a job without a high school diploma.
Many are following Tuttle’s path and using the free GED program at OTC to earn their high-school credential and as many as 10 percent continue their college education at OTC.
Ramona George, director of the GED and adult education programs at OTC, said 60 percent of those enrolled in the programs are unemployed and that all of OTC’s sites where the GED training is offered have seen a 10 to 25 percent increase in enrollment over last year due to the economic downturn.
Last year, nearly 3,200 enrolled in GED classes and last May, a record 368 students earned their GEDs at OTC.
“It’s not necessarily all people who have been laid off taking GED classes. We see those people who just can’t get a job. Employers are more choosy and are upping the job requirements,” George said, adding that President Obama’s recent call for Americans to continue their education has resonated with everyone at the College.
“It tells us that the high school diploma or GED is not the end all to education. Getting a GED is still such an accomplishment but in some form or another, you’ve got to go on with your education to be employable and make a living wage.”
The programs at OTC are funded with federal grants and for every dollar spent on the GED program, $9 are returned in the form of taxes paid by the educated graduate who finds a good-paying job.
“The high school kids of today are tomorrow’s taxpayers,” George said.
GED recipients have motivational reasons to continue their education. Each recipient who gets their GED from OTC receives three free credit hours that can be used to take a college-level class at OTC.
Any student who scores 2,900 or better on the final GED test receives $900 a semester for four semesters to attend OTC. A perfect GED score is 4,000.
While GED and adult education classes are filling up, George said her office is working to accommodate everyone who needs help.
“Bolivar has never been so busy. Many others centers are the same. There are waiting lists. But we’re going to find a way to help everyone receive service,” she said.
For more information about the GED and adult education programs, call 447-8861.
Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.
College Director of Communications
Coordinator of Publications
Phone: (417) 447-2666