The Tests of General Educational Development, or GED, has changed the lives of adults since its beginnings in 1942. More than 18 million adults have earned their GED credentials, the only nationally recognized high school equivalency credential. The benefits of getting a GED include economic gain, options to pursue college and a confidence boost that can lead to a more fulfilling life.
The GED was first developed in 1942 to help WWII veterans finish their high school studies and resume civilian life. It became available to civilians in 1947 in New York. Since its beginnings, graduates include governors, congressmen, teachers, nurses, lawyers and fire fighters, to name a few. The test measures the skills and knowledge similar to a four-year high school program of study. It continues to evolve as secondary education continues to evolve to meet the demands of today's society.
The GED Testing Service did research studies in 2011 and 2012. The studies showed that from 1997 to 2008 there was an increasingly wider gap between the earning potential of high school dropouts and GED recipients who were involved in the study. The GED recipients' hourly wage increased more than the high school dropouts' hourly wage. By 2008, the average hourly wage for the high school dropouts was just over $12 an hour. The average hourly wage for the GED recipients was close to $14 an hour.
The GED credential certifies that you have high school-level skills. Once you have passed the GED battery of tests, you have the option of continuing your education. According to the GED Testing Service, 95 percent of U.S. colleges and universities accept GED graduates. Of course, you must meet other qualifications for acceptance as deemed by each higher level institution's admissions process. Some colleges require the ACT and/or SAT, as well as additional placement or achievement tests.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, research shows that low self-esteem is associated with a number of negative outcomes including a low socio-economic status. Reports from adult educators indicate passing the GED may build self-confidence. The resulting confidence is the beginning initiative to work toward improving their economic situation through pursuing better jobs and considering higher education. The GED Testing Service research included examining job patterns. They discovered a high percentage of GED recipients left lower paying and less skill-demanding jobs for new occupations. The study suggests the GED may have helped increase confidence.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.