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Adult Graduation Choices
(and the Cost of Keeping Your Options Open)
by L

Most of us would love to keep all our options open. Unfortunately, keeping our options open usually involves a cost.  As an adult, you can choose to get your high school graduation in 3 ways: the GED, the Adult Dogwood, and the Regular Dogwood. They each come with different costs and benefits. 

The costs involve not just money, but also time and effort.  For many adults, time is a precious commodity obtained only through sacrificing and compromising other aspects of our lives. The time we spend on education is time we are not earning money or time not spent with our family.

The benefits are numerous and include the right to call yourself a Canadian high school graduate, enhanced  job opportunities, entry to college or university, and the enrichment in your  knowledge, skills, and confidence that comes with education.

Here, as with life in general, our choices involve compromises. The GED promises a relatively quick and easy graduation. The down side is that not as many post-secondary options will be open to you. The Adult Dogwood involves more work, but also opens more doors – especially if you graduate with the right courses. The regular Dogwood is usually not the best option for adults unless you are missing only a few courses from high school.

What is the GED?  It stands for General Educational Development and is the adult equivalency diploma that allows the typical adult to save at least 500 hours of course work. For students in our program, it might involve as little as 100 hours of course work after completing our grade 10 English and Grade 9 Math courses.

Students are required to pass 5 separate tests conducted by the Ministry of Education over a Friday and Saturday. The nearest test centre is at Douglas College. You can register there a month before the test dates with a fee of $60, and we will help get you ready for the test. If you don’t pass all 5 the first time, you get to keep the ones you passed and rewrite only the ones you missed.

The 5 tests are:

1.      English Reading and Grammar,

2.      English Writing,

3.      Mathematics,

4.      Science Reading Comprehension, and

5.      Social Studies Reading Comprehension.


Our English 10 course is already a very good preparation for the first 2 tests. The last 2 tests, Science and Social Studies, are both based on reading comprehension skills and do not really test previously learnt subject content.  If you are a good reader, you should do well. The Math section does not require much more beyond what you would have covered in Math 9.

If you have obtained good scores in the English 10 and Math 9 tests, spending 100 hours going through a good GED preparation book should get you ready to write the test. How long is 100 hours of study? Does 2 hours a day for 2 months seem reasonable?  Here’s the math: 60 days  x 2 hours = 120 hours. You can even afford to take 10 days off!

Most institutions will accept the GED diploma as the high school graduation requirement and further specify that you need some additional courses that are pre-requisites for the program you plan to join. For example, nursing and health science options will normally require a Biology 12 credit as well as the English 12 and Principals of Math 11 credits.

Even if you decide that you prefer to do the Adult Dogwood, it is still a good idea to pick up the GED diploma along the way as insurance in case an unexpected change in your life prevents you from continuing your studies. It doesn't really require any additional work beyond what you are doing for your Adult Dogwood.

With the Adult Dogwood, you need to get 5 courses from Grades 11 and 12. Only 2 of the 5 courses can be from Grade 11: either Accounting 11/Principals of Math 11/Essentials of Math 11 and/or Socials 11/Civics 11. The other courses must be Grade 12 courses. However, unless you choose your courses carefully, you will probably still not get into many college or university programs.

Typically, most colleges and universities need you to have English 12 and Principles of Math 11. To get your Principles of Math 11, you need to first do the Introduction to Math 11 course, and for English 12, the normal pre-requisites are Communications 12 and English 11.

In our centre, this can take an additional 800 hours of study beyond your grade 10 courses. This might seem like a lot of time; but, if you are studying full-time, it is possible to do this in 6 months.  Hopefully, the pay-off is that it helps get you started in your dream career.

There will also be major shifts in your perspective when you are doing the course work. The Principles of Math 11 course requires you to use all the math skills you have ever learnt and to use clear, logical thinking to solve increasingly complex and extended questions.

Our English courses will prove to be an eye-opener – especially if you are not Canadian born.  An analysis of plot, character and points of view will lead you to re-examine how you view things in the future. Get ready for a more enlightened, considerate, and mindful new you!

The enrichment you get through education is priceless, and not everything can be brought into a cost-benefit analysis. However, many of us have pressing real-life needs that have to be met fairly quickly.  Think about what you can afford, figure out where you want to go, and we’ll try our best to help you get there – whatever you decide. Good luck!

For more information, click on the links below:

GED General Information

GED B.C. Ministry of Education Policies

Adult Dogwood Information



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