Army opens GED school for dropouts

Only 30 percent of young people 17 to 24 years old are qualified for military service; the rest are ineligible because of health issues (especially obesity), academic problems (low test scores, no diploma) or an arrest record. The Army has started an intensive GED-prep school for recruits who test in the top half of the aptitude test but haven’t completed high school.

Their day begins in uniform at 5 a.m. with physical training. Then they attend about eight hours of academic review classes, followed by homework each evening. An hour of marching drills and military discipline is thrown in for good measure.

. . . The soldiers work in small classrooms outfitted with simple desks, chairs, and dry-erase boards. In-desk computers are used for test-taking. Grouped three to four to a class, the students hunch over special GED preparation books, working on basic math, social studies and reading selections.

They get two tries at passing the GED. After that, they’re released from their service commitment.

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  1. I think it is interesting that the military is doing this and I think it is not a bad idea. Education is important no matter what field of work you are going into, be it the military or not.

  2. That explains a lot, actually.

    Not in a good way.

  3. Reminds me, sadly, of us.

    I teach at a competitive liberal arts college.

    We got one of those booster emails last week about a new hire in the office that helps students with academic things (you know). The new hire’s qualifications? She’s a successful high school teacher.

    Yes, we charge $45,000/annum and we just hired a high school teacher for remediation.

  4. They’ll earn every last penny of that education and more!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I have advocated for boot camp in high school. If the military helps turn kids lives around then I am all for it. What is happening in this country now due to poor quality public education and the breakdown of the family is frightening. Some kids (and parents) truthfully need a swift kick in the butt to get headed in the right direction…go for it.

  6. superdestroyer says:


    the military does fail to turn many people around. The military is no better at turning around people who are not interested in learning or achievement than secondary schools are.

    I always find it odd that people advocate boot camp schools for blacks and hispanics while advocating academic center magnet programs for whites and Asians.

    And last, a swift kick will never work because you cannot make someone learn when the do not want to learn.

  7. Super Destroyer is basically right. The Army discharges those who would will not accept discipline. Public schools cannot. I am not aware of any statistics to support it though. The Army succeeds in some cases where the schools failed, but who can say if it was just because the kids were older and more mature instead of the usual reasons cited like more structure and discipline. Most of the Army’s failures end up getting bad discharges that will hinder them for the rest of their lives. Sending problem children into the Army is not a good idea for them or the Army.

  8. David Daniels says:

    I think it’s a great idea. The students enrolled in the program have expressed a desire to serve in the Army, but are either ineleiglbe to do so based on not having a high school diploma or they can’t get the enlistment options they want because they don’t have their GED. Additionally, it’s my understanding that when it’s all done, they don’t have to join the Army. I consider it a way the Army continues to serve the nation and the community by giving these students a chance to succeed, not only in the Army, but in the civilian world later on. If they stay in the Army to serve something greater than themselves, their country, great! It’s done great things for me and others.

    Major David Daniels
    Student, US Army Command and General Staff College

  9. Walter Wallis says:

    I left High School half way through my senior year for “Creative Differences” and had to join the Army to avoid compulsory attendance laws. Aced the GED, scored 230 on the AGCT and passed the two year college equivalency GED.
    With the wise use of civilian help for non-combat operations the army has no use for yard birds any more.
    I have always opposed movie style boot camp brutality and disrespect. Arms is a profession and as such should be taught professionally. I was able to impart the seriousness of the mission without screaming. Leaders who scream in combat invite fragging.

  10. David Daniels says:

    It’s not a boot camp high school with the movie version of basic training. Basic training for the Army has undergone significant changes in the last several years as the Army recognizes that as an all-volunteer force fighting on two fronts, the current Soldier in basic training is motivated and wants to serve. This is an opportunity for potential Soldiers to earn their GED and join the Army if they desire to do so. It also provides them some structure and physical training similar to what they will encounter at basic training as well as in a unit. I think there is a lot to be gained by the Army and the potential Soldier through this program.

    Major David Daniels
    Student, US Army Command and General Staff College