The recession has widened the opportunity gap between workers of all educational backgrounds, and unemployment is rising.
In particular, those without a high school diploma are roughly 60 percent more likely to be unemployed than those with a diploma. For people who never fulfilled requirements for a high school degree, GED programs offer the chance to earn a diploma.
Despite the challenges along the path to a degree, many workers, including the four featured in these stories, are hopeful that a diploma will make them more competitive in the professional marketplace.
20 years old
“ Any other parent would have been gave up. She's still there pushing me. ”
42 years old
“ When I decide to do something, if I have to alter my life to get it done, I'll get it done. ”
29 years old
“ I want to do it in a one-shot deal. Go in there, get my GED, the sky is the limit for me. ”
20 years old
“ I was 16 when I dropped out. My grandmother got real sick and the mother of my children at the time got pregnant. ”
This project presents a collective portrait of students going back to school to earn their GED. Their stories unfold in a series of video profiles produced by students at the Columbia Journalism School.
Mel Burford and Kenan Davis