Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I May Need a Prom....

Fourth grade was my last year in a traditional school setting. Our family moved out into the country that year and it was decided to home-school the four of us kids from that point on. We did pretty good for a couple of years, but then sort of slid unintentionally into the "unschooling" method of learning.

As each of my siblings grew, they all began their higher education at our local community college. We were already enrolled there as advanced placement students, so no one had to prove they'd graduated. I think my sister was the only one of us who took her GED test at the end of high school; the rest of us skipped that step and went straight to college. That worked OK for my siblings; they all graduated with a degree from that college and my brothers went on to get their university degrees as well.

I started college a few years later than the other three kids. I was busy taking care of the 3 kids I'd later adopt and didn't get the motivation until a cat bit my hand and I needed to become a full-time student to get on my mom's insurance. (Long story) Once I started, I did quite well and loved getting decent grades after years of feeling a little sub-average since I'd not had formal schooling beyond 7th grade.

At the age of 23, I was a full time student and beginning what would turn out to be a lengthy custody battle for my kids. There were so many court appointments to go to, meetings with CPS, helping the kids deal with the trauma of their lives, counseling appointments, and the fear that it would all come to nothing and they'd be returned to the same harmful environment that I had nothing left to give to my studies. I used to come out of court and shake so hard I couldn't talk because my teeth were chattering so badly. Of course I intended to go back once things settled down, but had no idea that things were only going to get harder and stay that way for many, many years. So no more college for me.

That left me in the awkward position of no diploma, no GED, and no degree. Having gotten good grades in the classes I DID take, I felt I could do it, but with no real proof of anything. It reminded me of Lady de Bourgh in "Pride and Prejudice", who, when speaking of the art of piano playing, said, "I should have been a great proficient if I had ever learned."

With the whole 'move thing' and the whole 'turning over a new leaf thing', I wanted to finally go for it and get my GED. There is an adult education center at the college in Williston, so in January I took the plunge and took my first test. I was in a hurry, so did just one, and an easy one at that, reading. The lady called me up a couple days later and told me excitedly that I'd gotten 100% on my test.

That was good news, but a little daunting. I didn't like setting the bar quite so high my first time! The next trip down I dashed in and took social studies. A day later, another breathless call, another 100%. After that, the ladies at the center were talking about me getting 100% on all my tests, but I knew better. Math was still to come, and math and I don't get along too well. In fact, math is the single reason why it took me so many years to tackle testing.

The next trip down I took the science and writing tests. Now it was just math and me. Me and math. I planned to study, but the weeks ticked by and I did nothing. Finally I scheduled an appointment and determined come what may, I was taking the test. Did I study? Need you ask? I had my mom give me hasty math advice while I showered, dressed, and dashed out the door. I got there 45 minutes before they closed and took my test. I felt I'd passed, since a passing score is only 1 point above 50%, but you never know.

Sabbath afternoon I got my packet in the mail. I'd passed, and (beg pardon, but must brag here) was in the 99th percentile in reading and social studies, 96th for writing, 92nd for science, and in the 84th for math. I do have to say that it's a sad, sad commentary on the state of modern education that I scored higher than 83% of high school seniors in math. Really.

So no more filling in "some college" on paperwork to avoid the lengthy explanation of why I have no diploma or GED. I have achieved an indisputable level of accomplishment and am looking forward to a possible return to college...if I can figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But first I will need a smallish graduation party, nothing much, just something simple. One hundred, maybe two hundred people, an ice sculpture, limousines, a red carpet, perhaps a circus or two.


  1. Congratulations Tina! So proud of you!

  2. Congratulations!


  3. If you want an ice sculpture, I suggest you go outside and break one off. Welcome to Club GED (pronounced "jed").

  4. I was picturing something a little more complex than an icicle.

  5. Tina, I am so excited for you! Reach for the sun--you'll make it. You have more grit than anyone I have ever known!!!!!!