According to the GED Testing Service, 65 percent of those who pass the GED took the test to “further their education.”
The problem, however, is that only 43 percent of these students actually go on to enroll in postsecondary education programs, and a scant 12 percent actually complete those postsecondary programs.
Aaron Michel, cofounder and CEO of career navigation and education software provider PathSource, believes these low enrollment and graduation rates can be partially attributed to a lack of information. That is, GED students don’t often receive much guidance once they’ve passed the test. If they want to continue their education, they generally have to take it into their own hands to find postsecondary programs that work for them.
“How can you choose the best direction in life if you don’t know what all your options are?” asks Michel. “How can you reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going?”
PathSource has recently teamed up with the GED Testing Service in an effort to rectify this situation, and so far, Michel says, the results have been great.
A Diploma’s Not What It Used to Be
According to Michel, this is the real core of the problem: today’s diplomas just aren’t connected to the 21st century workforce.
“There’s this gap where all these GED students want to have better lives, and they want to go on to postsecondary education, but they don’t know exactly what they want to do or how to get there,” Michel explains. “That’s the gap that we were brought in to fill.”
PathSource aims to connect GED students directly to the modern workforce through a suite of career exploration tools.
“Every person who registers for the GED now will get full access to PathSource’s tools,” Michel says.
The PathSource suite comprises a number of tools, most notably a video library of informational interviews and a career assessment that exposes students to potential career paths.
Michel calls PathSource’s video library, which contains more than 3,000 videos, the “world’s largest library of informational interviews on video.” The idea here is that students can log into the platform and browse through these videos to learn about different career paths directly from the professionals who have walked them.
PathSource also offers a career assessment that uses a student’s interests to generate a list of career recommendations. Students can then explore each recommendation further by watching videos and exploring PathSource’s wide range of career data.
“We want this test to be more than just a test. We want this to be a bridge to a better future,” Michel says. “They made the test more rigorous, and they connected it with the 21st century workforce through a career exploration process.”
So Far, So Good
The PathSource/GED partnership was officially implemented on September 29 — not even a month ago just yet — and Michel says he’s been hearing great feedback.
“I visited an adult education center right after we went live in Richmond, CA,” Michel says. “I talked with a number of staff and students, and everyone was really positive about it. I actually ran a few students through the process, and they said it was really invaluable. They didn’t know where they wanted to go, and using this, they could make sure life didn’t just happen to them.”
When talking about his experience at the adult education center, Michel zeros in on one student in particular.
“One woman took the career assessment, and she decided she needed to take it again — because she had taken it as who she is today, but she wanted to take it as who she wanted to be tomorrow,” Michel says. “It was very powerful to see that.”
PathSource: Not Just for GED Students
While PathSource is doing great work with GED students right now, I feel it’s important to note that these students aren’t the only ones who can take advantage of PathSource’s career exploration tools. College students, recent grads, and even established members of the workforce looking for new career options can benefit from PathSource’s app and Web portal.
Very, very few people choose the right career on their first try; some estimates peg that number as low as 5 percent.
“Basically, the other 95 percent are miserable,” Michel says with a bit of grim humor. “[Finding the right career] is a huge, screaming problem for people across the board, across education levels, across the socioeconomic spectrum.”
So, if you’re one of the 95 percent, you may want to check out PathSource.