The College of Central Florida's successful Adult Education Program, which serves about 750 students per year, wants to do more than bestow Florida High School diplomas and General Equivalency Diplomas to students.
The program's seven educators at the Levy Center want to help graduates get something MORE — a successful entrance and graduation from college.
Professor Dennis Radice and Adult Education Coordinator Joan Leubbe told the Chiefland Rotary Club on July 14 that the school has received a $100,000 federal grant to help students make the transition from high school student to college student.
Radice said the program at the Levy Center has a 99.9 percent first-time pass rate on the GED five-part test for students who follow the recommended program. "Only two students who didn't and took the test the first time and didn't pass," Radice said.
But a GED or high school diploma for students who need only one or two courses is not the goal of adult education.
"Our main focus is encouraging students who get their GEDs to go on with their education," he said. "One of only 10 in the state go on to college without college prep classes.”
"What they require is something that GED doesn't cover...like polynomials," Radice said.
"They're thrown into college and they don't know what's expected of them," Leubbe said.
"Ninety-nine percent of our students are at risk to begin with," Radice said. "We're seeing a lot of 16 to 19-year-olds."
While college prep is good, Radice said the educators are finding that GED students arespending as much as a year and a half in college prep classes — and using a year and a half’s worth of financial aid money — before ever entering a regular college class. For some, it could mean running out of money before ever getting an associate's or bachelor's degree.
"So, in a sense, we dual enroll them," Radice said. The students take the college prep classes at the same time they are taking their GED courses.
Leubbe said the college is looking to recruit 80 GED graduates for the GED & MORE Program. MORE stands for motivation, opportunities, resources and education. The program will pick up the tab for college prep courses if a student needs them.
She said the program will help prepare adult education students to enter college without needing college prep courses, assist them with college applications and financial aid applications and provide counseling and mentoring. The grant also provides funding for training the students to succeed in the college classroom with notetaking and study skills.
In Levy County 26 percent of people over 25 don't have a high school diploma," Leubbe said. "And it's scary to go back."
But students will find that at the Levy Center they are tailoring education to a lot of different learning styles, Leubbe said. The Levy Center has a high teacher to student ratio for the approximately 750 students that will pass through the program in a year.
She said the Center has competition from other schools that the students hear about in the media, such as Santa Fe College in Gainesville. "We say at least stay here and start here," she said.
Both educators also thanked the Rotary Club members for sponsoring the local chapter of the National Adult Education Honor Society.