“Nobody in my family has graduated… Nobody.”
Completing high school is more than just earning a diploma for VLACS adult education student Spencer Foster. Finishing high school means being the first in his family to break the cycle.
The dropout rate back when Foster first attended high school was far greater than it is today. Nearly 15 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds did not have a high school credential in 1970, a 10 percent increase from the current dropout rate.
There are more options for adults to complete high school than there once was, yet an estimated 39 to 40 million people in the U.S. are still without a high school diploma. Spencer Foster is determined to beat these statistics.
Foster grew up in a boy’s home called Boy’s Town, a place for kids to go when they are experiencing behavioral or family issues. Once he aged out of the home, his parents told him that he was finished with high school.
Or so they thought.
It wasn’t until decades later, when he applied for a job in healthcare, that he realized he technically didn’t graduate. He was able to keep his job because of his experience, yet he was determined to find a program to complete high school.
So, he inquired about earning his GED at a local adult center. Foster knew it would be a long road ahead of him since his transcripts from Boy’s Town were nowhere to be found.
Back to square one.
He’d spend just over a year working towards his GED, then the pandemic hit. As a result, the school abruptly moved online, which he described had negatively impacted his experience. If he was going to go back to school, he wanted to feel challenged, engaged, and informed. So, he left the program searching for an education that would provide him with a more meaningful experience.
That’s when the New Hampshire Department of Education told him about VLACS. When Foster enrolled, VLACS found his transcripts at Boy’s Town, which indicated he wasn’t as far from the finish line as he originally thought. Just three classes shy of his diploma.
Juggling his career, responsibilities at home, and course load hasn’t been easy, but Foster refuses to give up.
“I’m just making it, but this is more important to me… I’m hitting my 50s, but it doesn’t matter. I want to do this. No matter what it takes.”
His experience at VLACS has differed vastly from his experience in other programs because of the support structures in place. He is able to listen to lessons while he works using text-to-speech. He utilizes quizzes as an opportunity to master his course material. When he needs help or has questions, his instructors are there for him.
“The teachers are very helpful. No matter how many times I email them, I get a response right away. That’s what’s really nice.”
Foster’s health instructor Lynn Bates said he exemplifies what it means to be successful. She commented, “Spencer worked hard on this course. He has a goal, and he does what it takes to reach it. We talked a lot about how people often questioned him about why as a 49-year-old, he would even bother to get his high school diploma, and he would simply reply to them, ‘you’re never too old.’
Bates added that Foster would do whatever it took to not just learn for the sake of the grade but to learn the knowledge for a lifetime.
“He even did additional research in areas that piqued his interest. He kept up with his coursework with just a little prodding and encouragement from me while working double shifts towards the end of the coursework. Spencer is a great example of hard work and dedication paying off.”
Today, Foster is just one course away from earning his diploma. After he graduates, he says he plans to leave his job and looks forward to the opportunities that will become available to him.
Adults enroll in our program for several different reasons.
Some are like Spencer Foster and looking to earn their high school diploma, while others have another goal in mind.
In addition to earning a diploma, we can also help adults prepare for college by providing them with the prerequisites needed to get into a degree program.
We can also help adults advance their careers or even make a career change.
For example, a student can learn Spanish to gain a competitive advantage in the job market or career advancement in their current role.
Or, a learner looking to enter into a new field, like administrative assisting, for example, could take our Word and Excel courses, which can be applied to the Microsoft Office Suite certification exam. Similarly, a student interested in going into the hospitality industry can take our Restaurant Management course to build their resume and portfolio.