For most of James Griffin’s life, the fact that he didn’t have a high school diploma rarely gave him much cause for concern.
An electrician by trade, Griffin usually could find work, bouncing around between jobs at various industrial plants, even at one point running his own contracting outfit in Florida, doing work for Eglin Air Force Base. Whenever he encountered a job application asking whether he possessed a high school diploma, he would simply mark the box, saying he did, and then cross his fingers, hoping nobody would bother to check.
They never did.
That is, until his dream job suddenly presented itself. At age 56, Griffin was hired in Texas by the Lear Corporation as a maintenance technician—a job that offered steady hours, health and retirement benefits, and some mercy on his aging body, which had ground down from years of hauling heavy conduit around job sites.
But there was a catch. As a condition of his employment, Griffin had to have a GED—no simple check mark would do the trick this time.
“Oh, man,” Griffin remembers thinking. “I felt the weight of it—realizing that, after all these years, I’d have to go back to school.”
He purchased some flash cards and watched a few YouTube tutorials. But he was still apprehensive, figuring he needed a more thorough approach. That’s when he discovered KET’s FastForward program and purchased the online courses through GED.com.
His new job was set to begin soon, so Griffin began studying around the clock, taking notes and reviewing everything as he went.
“I really had to push because I knew I only had a short amount of time,” Griffin said. “So, I’d talk to my wife, to the refrigerator, basically to whoever would listen.”
Earlier in the week, he had taken the math portion of the GED test, but had failed by a few points. So he vowed to buckle down, devoting the next two days to studying.
His work paid off—he passed the test, just a few days before his new job was slated to begin.
And he says he can’t thank KET enough for its FastForward program.
“It was very comprehensive and the curriculum was easy to understand, so that kept me moving forward,” Griffin said.
At one point, Griffin said he encountered a bug, where some of the math problems weren’t rendering correctly online. He dashed off an email to KET, who immediately got in touch with him, correcting the bug and taking a personal interest in his story.
“Sarah Wilkins and the KET staff were very encouraging the whole way,” Griffin said. “They really cheered me on, and I thought it was pretty cool of them to do that.”
And now that he’s started his job at Lear, Griffin said he’s already more optimistic about his future.
“I’ve got all sorts of opportunities now, whether to continue studies in my field—my employer offers some courses on robotics and automation. And those are things I’ve always had an interest in,” Griffin said.
And his advice to those who are in similar shoes, wondering whether to earn their GED?
“I would tell them to do it,” Griffin said. “It’s one of those monsters that you just have to slay. I kept hoping I didn’t need it, but I can see now that it could have opened a lot of opportunities for me—and frankly I kind of regret not doing it sooner.”