When Alex Tingler first looked into getting a Maryland high school diploma as an adult learner, she had one problem.
“I have really bad test anxiety. I knew taking the GED® the way it was, there was no way I could do it” she said. “As far as math and science, just the thought of it freaked me out. … There was a lot of fear.”
But the Pasadena resident did some research and found the National External Diploma Program (NEDP), a competency-based GED alternative for adults seeking to earn a high school diploma. In this program, students prove their mastery of material by working independently on assigned tasks, coordinating with an advisor and developing a portfolio, all on their own timeline.
Previously under Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Maryland Department of Labor awarded program operations to AACC July 1 after the retirement of longtime Director Roni Nudelman. Now at AACC, students like Tingler can choose between two ways to earn a high school diploma: enroll in AACC’s GED® Test Preparation program and prepare to pass the GED exam, or complete the NEDP.
Though the NEDP hasn’t changed, Adult Education and English Language Learning Director Dana Marron said now NEDP students will also get all the benefits of any other student attending the college, like the library, gym, tutoring, counseling and more. She said the extra support, along with the multiple pathways to earn a diploma, are important offerings.
“Now students come into our doors and we provide two pathways. We can help them identify the program that’s the right fit for them,” she said. “We know what makes adult learners feel most confident and motivated is having the agency to take control of their own learning.”
For Tingler, that choice was key. After a tumultuous home life and addiction, she had dropped out of middle school. But at 28 and in recovery, the lack of a degree stood between her and the professional life she desired. “I found my passion in helping others and I wanted to pursue my career,” she said.
Though she still has test anxiety, the way the NEDP was set up meshed with her learning style. “I love how it works through things you're already applying to life,” she said. “It helps you not only in the subjects, but it makes you dig deeper in real life, like studying interest rates in math. It was my favorite section that entire program.”
She worked on the program for 18 months, finishing in June, and said working at your own pace was helpful as she balanced a full-time job, Narcotics Anonymous activities, volunteering and even planning a wedding and getting married during the same stretch. She’s now looking forward to a fall term at AACC, with the short-term goal of earning an addiction counseling certificate, and the long-term goal of pursuing a higher degree in the mental health field.
“People want their diploma, but they think they don’t have time for it,” she said. “But it is important and free.” Both the GED® Test Preparation program and NEDP are offered at AACC with no cost to students.
For information visit our High School Diploma Programs page.