Jacklyn Isabell was 15 when she made the decision to drop out of James Madison High School.
She was pregnant, and her mother had recently died. But while taking college courses at Milwaukee Area Technical College, she learned she was not being given credit for coursework taken at other schools, including Midwest Theological Institute.
“Here I was with all these college credits and no high school diploma,” she said.
Frustrated, Isabell thought about giving up. But her children’s father encouraged her to complete her high school journey.
“I got two girls looking up at me,” she said. “I got to finish this degree.”
So, in February, the 34-year-old began taking classes at Literacy Services, 555 N. Plankinton Ave., through MATC’s high school equivalency program. In May, she completed her work and is planning to finish her associate degree in early childhood education by the end of the year.
How to finish what you started
When it comes to finishing high school, there are lots of paths you can take.
Arturo Martinez, an associate dean at MATC, said people who complete their GED, or general education development, tests usually do so because it’s a requirement by their employer, they need it for a post-secondary job, or they want a better future for their children.
MATC offers GED testing and preparation. To take the test, people can call MATC’s downtown, Mequon, Oak Creek or West Allis campuses. For preparation courses, MATC asks students to take a TABE test and meet with an adviser to discuss the next step.
For those looking to continue their education, they may consider completing their high school diploma or getting their HSED, or high school equivalency diploma.
Valencia Brown, an associate dean for MATC, said that MATC is the only technical college in Wisconsin that offers an Adult High School program.
Through the program, students can take classes on campus or online. While a typical high school has a set track for its students, MATC’s programs allows students to complete courses at their own pace. To join the Adult High School program, potential students can fill out an application at MATC’s downtown campus, 700 W. State St., in the Welcome Center or Foundation Hall Room.
For the HSED program, adults have the option to do the 5.09 program. Students can take classes at MATC or through community partners such as Literacy Services or the YWCA. The program is based on competency levels in areas such as math and communication, Martinez said.
This program is best for students looking to continue their education.
Isabell participated in the program and said MATC offered different options to accommodate a person’s schedule.
Going back to school can feel frustrating, Isabell said, but it was the best decision she’s ever made.
“I put that bookbag on and did what I had to do,” she said.
Resources to get you started
An HSED, or high school equivalency diploma, is akin to a high school diploma. It requires more classes and tests compared to a GED, which tests competency levels in math, reading, science and social studies.
Here is a list of institutions that offer HSED programming and GED prep and testing:
MATC offers options to obtain a GED or HSED. To take a GED test call (414) 297-6233, for a TABE test, which is required before GED preparation courses, call (414) 297-6233. To learn about HSED options calls (414) 297-7471.
Literacy Services offers GED prep and 5.09 HSED classes at North Division High School Learning Lab, 1011 W. Center St., and the Layton Center, 1545 S. Layton Blvd. To enroll at North Division, call (414) 267-5171, and for Layton call (414) 643-5108.
Information sessions on YWCA’s adult education courses are every Thursday at 1915 N. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Or contact Janita at (414) 267-3297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UMOS offers GED classroom instruction and testing opportunities. Call (414) 389-6000 to learn more.
Social Development Commission offers free GED and HSED classes. For more information call the Education and Training department at (414) 906-2839.
To learn more about Wisconsin’s GED requirements, which changed in 2014, the Department of Public Instruction answers frequently asked questions. It also verifies credentials, lists requirements and more. Contact Sherry Holly, the alternative education administrator, at (608) 267-1062 or email@example.com.
Next Door Milwaukee offers GED test preparation, the 5.09 HSED program, tutoring and more. Contact Peter at (414) 999-2563 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Next Door Milwaukee’s adult education programs.
The GED Testing Service explains how the test works, has helpful tips and offers resources for testing options and costs. The site also verifies testing centers. Contact (877) 392-6433 or email@example.com with general questions.