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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Real-World Cost of Getting a GED: About $1000

The Real-World Cost of Getting a GED:  About $1000Everyone has probably heard that people who don't graduate from high school don't make as much money over the course of their work life as those who did finish school. I knew that, I was aware of what I was giving up, and I quit school anyway. I was young, and infatuated with someone, and in the haze of what I thought was "true love" school seemed inconsequential. I never officially withdrew from school, I just decided one day that I wasn't going back. I figured that it didn't really make any difference, but as it turns out, quitting school cost me in more ways than I could have conceived.

The person I was dating never encouraged me to go back to school, and I was just along for the ride. I ended up getting a few dead-end jobs, first as an assistant at a dog grooming salon, then as an attendant at a car wash, then as a waitress at a Waffle House. All of these jobs brought in money, true enough, but none brought in enough to even pay half of the bills. I felt cheated and unfulfilled.

Then, I learned that I was expecting a baby. I was 21, and work immediately took a back seat to making sure I had a happy, healthy baby. My fiance (now my husband) and I discussed it at length, and we decided that I would stay home and take care of the baby and the household. It would have been cost-prohibitive for me to return to work at that point, because child-care expenses, fuel, and other costs would have consumed my entire paycheck.

When my oldest entered school, I took stock of my life. I decided that when my other daughter was old enough to start school, that I would go back to work. First, I needed a high-school diploma. I looked into GED classes at the high school in my town, and I was told that the prep course would cost $100, and to take the exam for my GED would cost $50. I signed up, and started classes the next Monday.

Studying for my GED wasn't without its costs after the initial investment. I had to pay for gas to get back and forth between home and the school, and my husband and I also had to pay for a babysitter five evenings a week. If he had been able to take care of them, that would have saved us a lot of money, but his job was dependent on him working evenings and it wasn't possible for him to take the kids along. All in all, we probably spent $1000 so I could get my GED.

  • Child care cost us $30 per day, five days a week.

  • I spent an average of $10 per day on gas.

  • The GED prep course cost $100.

  • The exam (which thankfully I passed on my first try) set us back $50.

For me, quitting high school was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. When I think back to what else my family could have had with that $1000, I think that:

  • We could have taken a family vacation to the Florida Keys. I've been there before and I'd love to return.

  • I would have had the money to have some work done on my car. If I would have put that money into my vehicle, it would probably be fully restored by now.

  • My girls would have been able to go to summer camp, which they have wanted to do for about two years.

  • We'd have a big-screen TV and home theater system instead of the 17" and the bookshelf stereo that we have now.

  • My husband and I would have been able to afford to have a getaway for two, maybe a couple of days in the Bahamas.

  • I'd be able to buy my daughters more things that they want. Sometimes I feel badly because I can't buy them more toys and clothes like the other girls at school.

So, by impulsively quitting high school, I set myself way back. I'm just now getting to where I should have been, career-wise, ten years ago. I'm hoping to land a regular job, but that's tough these days. Meanwhile, I'm doing some freelance writing from home in order to bring in a little extra cash.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have finished school and then taken some college courses, maybe in graphic design or fitness and nutrition. If I can finance it somehow, I may still take some classes. The moral of my story is: Don't quit school, or it will cost you money far into the future.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Puanani503 said...

nice post. I agree with you on that. I went through the same situation also.

Friday, February 13, 2009 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Debt Help said...

I can't think of a better way to send $1,000. That investment will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

Saturday, February 14, 2009 4:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments. I definitely think it was money well spent.

Saturday, February 14, 2009 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous flit said...

great post... am thinking that I might post a link to it from my blog... hope you don't mind

Sunday, February 15, 2009 7:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Debt Help said...

> am thinking that I might
> post a link to it from my blog...

Feel free to link to any page you like.

Sunday, February 15, 2009 9:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to add to what you mentioned...if you would have finished high school, you may have been able to test out of some classes in college. My husband dropped out of high school and he had to take classes to get him to the college level. That was $2500 to do. Granted he was on the Dean's list every semester but he would have saved a lot of money and energy if he would have stuck through high school.

I have a h/s diploma and an Associates but am pursuing a Masters degree. It's way too competitive right now for my Associates to be profitable.

An education doesn't promise a career but it gives you a step up over the people who don't have one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 10:50:00 PM  

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