‘Surprised and inspired’: GED alternative helps student reach goals

Christa Irvine’s education journey was a bit different than most of her classmates at Georgian College in Orillia.

“I have been working as a direct support professional in a group home setting for 22 years,” the Developmental Services Worker apprenticeship student says. “I have really enjoyed this line of work and have always wanted to take more courses in the field.”

Despite considerable experience in professional care, Irvine’s non-traditional education proved a barrier to further learning. She needed a high school diploma or equivalent to join the Developmental Services Worker program – and she was able to get that for free with Georgian’s Academic and Career Preparation (ACP).

A person with short, curly hair and a sunflower shirt takes a selfie outside in front of buildings and a tree.
Christa accessed free services from Academic and Career Preparation (ACP), which provides supportive upgrading for college, apprenticeship and employment. ACP is also an alternative to General Educational Development (GED) testing, which was discontinued in Canada earlier this month.

“The requirements for the apprenticeship were that I needed to have an OSSD, GED, ACE or another recognized Grade 12 equivalency. Though I completed up to Grade 12 at home through homeschooling, it was not legally recognized. I was feeling discouraged, but thanks to the ACP program, I was able to complete my Grade 12 equivalency in less than six months,” Christa says.

Start upgrading for free today

ACP provides supportive upgrading for college, apprenticeship and employment. Students can take college preparation-level courses in communications (English), math, computers, biology, chemistry, physics and more, in addition to pursuing an Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate, which is recognized by all Ontario colleges and apprenticeship programs as equivalent to an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Funded by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario, this Employment Ontario program is free to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are 18 or older and live in Ontario.

Students can start any time during the school year and progress at a pace that works for them.

Georgian has offered upgrading support for 50+ years

General Educational Development (GED) testing was discontinued in Canada as of May 4, 2024, but Ontarians have had other pathways to employment and further education for decades. Georgian College has offered adult upgrading for more than 50 years.

Christa herself first joined ACP nearly two decades ago and completed biology and chemistry programming. When she returned recently, she only had to take communications and math to earn her ACE certificate.

“The ACP staff are just as nice and encouraging now as they were in 2005,” Christa says. “I was surprised and inspired with how well I did with the upgrading courses, and I owe a lot of recognition and praise to the ACP teachers for that.”

More than a piece of paper

While the new Canadian Adult Education Credential (CAEC) is debuting across the country, it won’t be available in Ontario before summer 2024. Furthermore, it will cost Ontarians $100 to take, and most will still need to access learning supports to pass all five tests.

Adults like Christa who want personal, professional upgrading support, either to earn their ACE certificate or prepare for the CAEC tests, can find tremendous benefit in the free ACP programming.

I have only positive things to say about the ACP program. Thanks to them, I am now doing my Developmental Support Worker apprenticeship, and I am excelling in my courses. It felt like just yesterday I was discouraged with not having my Grade 12, and now, in just over a year I have completed my upgrading and have started my apprenticeship journey.

I can’t thank the teachers and the staff enough who worked alongside me and encouraged and supported me during my learning process. I would highly recommend the ACP program to anyone who is looking for a Grade 12 equivalency. The program was helpful not just academically, but in how it boosted my confidence and kept me focused and disciplined along the way.

Georgian offers free ACP in Barrie, Midland, Muskoka, Newmarket, Orangeville, Orillia, Owen Sound and South Georgian Bay.

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