Category Archives: Graduation and Transfer

Passing New GED Means $$–and More–to Students

Savannah Ross almost lost her chance at $100.

Savannah Ross walks the stage and earns $100 from Grandpa.
Savannah Ross walks the stage and earns $100 from Grandpa.

Her grandpa shared a story with me. He had told his granddaughters that if they got their GED, he would hand them 50 bucks, but if they actually “walked the stage,” he would hand them a $100 bill. Wednesday night, Savannah got her $100, thanks to a last-minute change of plans on our part.

The General Education Development (GED®) test changed in 2014. While many people struggled to pass the old test, this new one has proven to be a much bigger challenge both in difficulty and cost. The point of the change was to help those who had abandoned traditional high school better prepare for the rigors of postsecondary education and acquire better workplace skills, since high school equivalency alone usually does not lead to much of a secure future. Students must be able to push themselves farther than they have in the past, and the new GED is tailored to demand that higher level of ability. (Don’t believe me? Go to and try one of the practice tests. For a mere $6 you can see what our students are up against. The actual tests are $30/component or $120 for the entire test.)

Unfortunately, the students who need to earn their GED are usually the ones who have become disenfranchised in traditional school due to unaddressed learning challenges, social issues like bullying, negative conduct, or the fallout of family poverty and transience. Students who come in the door of the E building (where you can find Parkland College Adult Education) are often the walking wounded of the academic world. Their ages span 16 to 60+. They have already failed at school at least once for some reason. Their learning disabilities and social or economic issues have not gone away. They are often tentative and lack confidence in their ability to learn. They don’t trust us. They’ve never liked school. They usually come from harmful generational cycles.

But here at Parkland, we help them.

We challenge their self-fulfilling prophecies. Our Adult Ed teachers learn their names and stories. We build relationships with them, discover their abilities, and applaud their efforts. We introduce them to campus resources like the Office of Disability Services and the Center for Academic Success and community resources like the WIA office, local employers, and housing options.

Swiftly, with this scaffolding of support, many of our students start to succeed. They stop missing classes. They write more. They discuss in class. They start to see themselves as capable learners. They encourage each other. When one student passed the GED, she left a message on our classroom whiteboard encouraging her former peers to keep working. When we announced that 11 people had passed the GED, one woman called out, “I’ll be No. 12” —and she was! Number 13 passed without any fanfare at all.

This year, we could not boast 100+ GED passers as we have in years past. In spite of the increased challenges inherent in the new test, however, 13 Parkland Adult Education students passed it. Twelve of them are already moving through the steps to enroll in Parkland classes for the next school year. They’ll be in some of your classes, but you won’t recognize them because they’ll be just as ready as every other student in the room.

So back to our student with $100 in her hand today. In the past, we would have had access to the names and addresses of GED grads throughout Parkland District 505, so we would invite them all to participate in a big graduation ceremony in the Parkland Theatre. There were caps, gowns, speakers, board members, the traditional walk across the stage—the whole shebang. Now, with the new computerized test owned and operated by GED, we are unable to reach out to this large group, so we had to table the big ceremony.

Instead, we planned an informal reception on June 3 for our small group of 13 in the lovely new U building: a few balloons and cookies, and the chance for the students to celebrate with those they love. We decided it wouldn’t hurt to give them the chance to don the cap and gown. Only seven of them could attend, but to our surprise, those seven filled half the space with cheering family members. And at the last minute, Dean Tawanna Nickens decided to stand on the small stage, giving them the chance to walk across it as she read their names, shared their future plans, and gave them a small token from us.

So, Savannah “walked the stage” and got her $100 from her Grandpa… and so, so much more.


[Kellie Anderson is the program manager for Parkland College Adult Education.]

Three Key Reasons to Take Online Courses at Parkland!

Parkland College has offered online/distance learning for a long time and, for many reasons, we are still one of the top schools in the state of Illinois for online instruction.
Reason #3 – Quality: Online courses at Parkland are taught by the same instructors who teach in our classrooms.  And many of them have undergone additional training to help them to become effective and efficient online instructors.  So, we can proudly say that we have quality instruction happening at Parkland College, regardless of the method of delivery.
Reason #2 – Transferability:  Our online courses meet all of the same criteria for our classroom courses and are, therefore, accredited and accepted at most transfer institutions.  As always, we defer to the transfer institution for how they will accept the credits to be applied to a baccalaureate degree, but our courses are fully compliant with the Illinois Articulation Initiative and undergo regular review for continued compliance to ensure the quality of our courses.
And Reason #1 (And probably the most important reason) – Affordability:  It’s been said that you can expect to pay the same for an online degree as you would for one at a “brick and mortar” institution.  And for in-district students at Parkland, that is true.  Our online course rates for in-district students is the same as for the classroom instruction.  So, that makes Parkland an easy choice for getting your degree in a timely fashion—no worrying about conflicting class schedules.  Just take the online version and work at times that are convenient for you.
But wait… it gets better!  Out-of-district and international students pay substantially more per credit hour for classroom instruction.  However, Parkland is able to offer the online courses at a much more affordable rate than the classroom version.  For out-of-district students, the cost is $192.50 per credit hour; for international students the rate is $282.50 per credit hour.  Even at these rates, Parkland is the smart choice compared to other online institutions.



Further good news with the affordability of online courses is that they are fully eligible for federal financial aid.
So, make your money go further this summer and take your courses from anywhere in the world.  Parkland College will go with you and ensure you are getting quality, transferable courses at the best possible price.
Get started by choosing the link on this page that best describes your situation.  If you have any questions, please contact  See you online!

A with Honors Projects: Create, Achieve, Succeed!

Parkland students, I’m going to tell you about a great way to expand your special academic ability or creative interest while you’re here with us—and gain recognition (and even money) for it through a little extra effort.

Completing an “A with Honors” project in your Parkland class this semester can both challenge and encourage you. Students do not need to be a member of the Honors Program to complete an A with Honors project.

Those who complete an A with Honors project can receive a $100 scholarship,* and students who complete three Honors projects, have a GPA of 3.5, and participate in the Honors Symposium (spring semester) are awarded a $500 graduation scholarship.

You can see some of our projects on the award-winning SPARK (

A with Honors Project Proposals for full semester classes are due by Friday, March 13.  Thirteen-week class Project Proposals are due no later than April 3.  You can find the Proposal Form at (look under Student Services>>Academics>>Honors Program>>Forms tab).

As you can see above, it is highly beneficial to join the Parkland College Honors Program if you are eligible. You may join the Honors Program with a GPA of 3.0, acceptable credentials from your high school or another college, or a unique academic ability or creative interest. Membership in the Honors Program and completion of Honors Projects expand student horizons, challenge students academically, and provide students with recognition on transcripts and resumes.

In addition, students who graduate from the Honors Program are eligible to participate in Honors at the University of Illinois (most of its colleges) and at other universities and colleges around the state.

Finally, I want to encourage you all to participate in Parkland Scholars, a student organization that fosters academic excellence and success. Parkland Scholars works in conjunction with the Honors Program to sponsor campus-wide events and participate in service learning projects and activities.

If you are interested in joining Parkland Scholars or the Honors Program, please contact me:

*must also be in the Honors Program.

What is Parkland Pathway to Illinois?

The first time I walked into Parkland College was in 1994. I remember parking in what I now know to be the B wing and attempting to find the Admissions office (which resulted in me visiting the X wing and, somehow, the L wing). As a December ’93 graduate of Champaign Central High School, I knew that I wanted to transfer to a university, but I didn’t want to jump into that university life right away. Thank goodness for Parkland College.

While I made lots of wrong turns trying to find classes (signage is so much better now!), I never made a wrong turn in my course selection due to fantastic Parkland advising,  and I was able to transfer and successfully complete my bachelor’s degree.


Parkland Pathway to Illinois Program
Parkland College has been a partner with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for almost 50 years and has successfully transferred thousands of students. Seven years ago, the two institutions came together to create a new initiative, the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program. This program offers a selective group of students the opportunity to be enrolled at Parkland full time and also take a course at the University of Illinois every semester. Students receive individualized counseling at Parkland and at Illinois and can live in University housing.

Other benefits include guaranteed admission to the University of Illinois and paying a discounted tuition rate based on Parkland College tuition. The Parkland Pathway to Illinois program does not replace the traditional transfer programs that Parkland College offers, but it aims to enrich opportunities and open the door to the University of Illinois to more students.

How to Apply
Two separate groups of steps let a student apply to the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program. The first is for high school seniors to first apply to Parkland College in a transfer program (they will have to reapply even if they took dual credit courses in high school). They can apply by clicking here and can find a list of transfer degree programs here. Once they are admitted to Parkland College, students then schedule an assessment test. This test, used for Parkland course scheduling purposes, must be completed by April 1.

The second group of steps begins February 15, which is the day that the University of Illinois Parkland Pathway to Illinois application opens. High school seniors would create their account and apply to the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program. To apply, students must have the following:

  • Access to their high school courses and grades
  • ACT and/or ACT scores sent electronically to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 300-word (max.) essay related to their interest in the major they wish to study at the University of Illinois (a full list of undergraduate majors is available here)
  • Any other items required.

Once all parts of the University of Illinois application have been received, Pathway applicants will be reviewed for admission.

The Parkland Pathway to Illinois program is not the only way to transfer to the University of Illinois, but it is a way to slowly get used to the university environment while enjoying the benefits of the award-winning faculty, small class sizes, and personalized resources of Parkland College.

***Learn more at the Pathway to Illinois Informational Open House, Feb. 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Parkland College Student Union***

Questions about the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program can be directed to Beth Chepan, Parkland College Admissions and Records, 217/351-2887 or Holly Herrera, University of Illinois,

University of Illinois Students Take Classes at Parkland College

I will bet that most University of Illinois students are not aware of how many of their fellow students are taking courses at Parkland College while attending Illinois. The numbers might surprise you, because so many are taking our online courses; thus, they are almost in “stealth” mode.

In fact, about 400 Illinois students will take one or more Parkland College classes this spring. It is not unusual to see that number swell to around 2,000 Illinois students during the summer term.

The online course format allows students to complete their Parkland courses around Illinois classes, work schedules, and social activities; this is the most popular mode for taking our classes. Students who prefer the traditional course format take classes at our campus in the afternoon, late afternoon, and evening so they will fit in with their busy schedules.

Some Parkland courses traditionally have a significant number of Illinois students enrolled. Examples include online Physics 121 and 122 (the equivalent of Illinois’s PHYS 101 and 102) and basic general education courses like Psychology 101 (equivalent to PSYC 100) and History 105 (equivalent to HIST 172)—a nice choice to meet the Illinois Cultural Studies: Western/Comparative and Humanities and the Arts: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives requirements.

Of course, in order to enroll in any courses, you’ll need to complete some basic tasks. You can begin the process of applying to Parkland as a Course Enrollee (a person not working toward a degree or certificate at Parkland) online by going to As a current Illinois student, you would be considered a “concurrent enrollment” student at Parkland.

You can find procedures and forms for domestic students at the University of Illinois website, at Procedures and forms for international students are available at Please note the instructions very carefully. You must meet Parkland’s prerequisites for the courses and must verify this by bringing with you your Academic History from Illinois Student Self-Service.

If you are wondering how Parkland courses transfer to Illinois, check out the transfer course matrix at

So, if you are looking to squeeze in one more course or maybe looking for a different time or a format that you are unable to get  at Illinois, taking a class at Parkland College might just be for you. We would love to have you!

Parkland College is open until Dec. 23 to take your registrations.

Please note that all Parkland College transfer classes are freshman and sophomore level. For additional enrollment information, contact Parkland’s Office of Admissions.

John Sheahan
Director, Counseling and Advising Center