At South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC), education is not just for one type of student or academic path. In addition to college level classes, SPSCC also offers high school completion options for returning adult students. With flexible coursework and supportive faculty, completing high school through SPSCC can be a launching point for a number of educational or career goals.

SPSCC Student, Katherine Grimes, is graduate of the High School+ program at SPSCC. Unique to Washington State, the High School+ program is an opportunity for students age 18 and over to earn a high school diploma. Photo courtesy: Katherine Grimes

Currently enrolled in the college’s Office Technology and Administration (I-BEST) program, Katherine Grimes is an SPSCC student and recent graduate of the High School+ program.

“I got started at SPSCC in the spring of 2019 when I signed up for the High School+ program,” explains Grimes. “I chose SPSCC because of the High School+ program that they have and because of the school’s location. So far, being a student at SPSCC has been wonderful. The staff there is amazing, and they offer a ton of resources.”

Through SPSCC, adult students have two pathways for working toward high school completion, the High School+ program and GED Preparation Classes. Also known as the General Educational Development Test, the GED Test is a nationwide proficiency exam, covering four different test subjects, including mathematical reasoning, reasoning through language arts, social studies and science. Students who pass the GED Test will receive a High School Equivalency GED certificate. After students complete their preparation courses, they can take the GED Test on campus, as SPSCC is an official GED Testing Center.

“Our GED prep classes at SPSCC go through each of the four test subjects,” explains Nicole Walker, an adult learner transition specialist at SPSCC. “And there are two main advantages to courses at SPSCC. Number one, all of our GED Preparation Classes have a faculty and a structure that they work within to help students prepare. The second advantage of taking the prep class is that students enrolled in the class also are eligible for a scholarship from the college to help pay for the additional fees that are associated with the GED.”

Unique to Washington State, the High School + program is an opportunity for students age 18 and over to earn a high school diploma. In the program, a student’s previous education and work experience can count toward high school credits. Photo courtesy: SPSCC

Unique to Washington State, the High School+ program is an opportunity for students age 18 and over to earn a high school diploma. In the High School+ program, a student’s previous education and work experience is taken into account. The program’s faculty works with each student to determine credits already earned through previous education and life experience, while also creating a pathway of courses toward a high school diploma. “We work with students to determine if they’ve already completed certain credits or the learning that is required in some areas for their high school diploma,” explains Walker. “And we help them pick up wherever they’re at. For example, some students have credits from high school and they can transfer those in, and count them toward a high school diploma.”

In addition to previous education, certain employment, volunteer or other life experiences may also apply toward High School + credits. For example, if a student has worked in a restaurant and learned certain components about health, sanitation and hygiene, they can apply that experience toward a health credit. If a student had experience working as a cashier, they could possibly earn a math credit.

“We honor nontraditional learning paths,” says Walker. “The main ways that we try to serve adults and adult learners is honoring any learning that they’ve done prior. We’re not going to make them start from scratch.”

In the High School+ program, Grimes completed courses that are generally required for high school diplomas across the state, including Washington State history, United States history and health. Grimes also completed additional college coursework, hoping to one day earn a four-year degree and work in the administrative field.

Through SPSCC, adult students have two pathways for working toward a high school diploma, the High School + program and GED Preparation Classes.
Photo courtesy: SPSCC

“As well as the program’s required credits, I began college courses in Office Technology,” says Grimes. “Currently, I am taking Introduction to Computer Concepts & Applications, Filing, and Keyboarding. My educational goal after my studies is to pursue a career as a personal assistant or as an office administrative. With the possibility of going for a bachelor’s degree, which is a big possibility.”

To accommodate the schedules of adult learners, both high school completion options at SPSCC offer flexible coursework. Through self-paced classes, instructors aren’t imposing due dates for assignments, but instead, students are welcome to complete assignments on their own timeline. “It’s all about the student and how much time they can put in,” explains Walker. “And how much time they need to learn the content area. So, if there are subjects that are really easy for a student, they can just turn in the assignments one after another.”

Students can also slow down their studies and immerse themselves in potentially challenging subject areas. Through the High School+ program, there is flexibility for students to take their time to learn the course material before moving on to assignments or assessments. “There’s that personalization in terms of the learning, but also the time commitment,” continues Walker. “If you have adults who are working, or who are raising kids, they can do as little as they want and take their time with it or they can devote a bunch of time and just really power through and finish quickly. It’s all on the student to decide what they want to do and then we try to support that timeline.”

To learn more about high school completion options, the High School+ program, or GED Preparation Courses, visit the South Puget Sound Community College website.

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