By Linda Sailer

Ron Whiteaker found his way to Dickinson’s Adult Learning Center after driving truck for 34 years.

Having traveled around the country, Whiteaker said, “My doctor advised me to get a different career and I needed to brush up on my skills before taking a college course.”

Whiteaker is among the students who are enrolled at the Adult Learning Center.

“We reopened this week for spring semester and we already have new students,” coordinator Beth Hurt said. “We’re trying to get the word out about the computer classes we’re offering. Of course, we also offer GED and English as a second language courses, but we want to see our computer program grow.”

Three computer classes are posed to start:

V “Introduction to computers.” It starts Monday with morning and evening classes.

V “Quickbooks Pro.” It starts Tuesday with evening classes.

V “Beginning Word 2010.” It starts Jan. 22 with morning and evening classes.

“We have multiple opportunities for each class,” Hurt said. “We’re rotating constantly for each class.”

The center is offering the classes in response to people wanting to upgrade their computer skills.

“Most jobs now days require some sort of computer literacy and we’re trying to fill that need,” Hurt said.

Students don’t need to own a computer to enroll in the classes.

 “We definitely have more room and there’s always classes in the future,” Hurt said.

The Adult Learning Center transitioned to a new GED program when the previous series concluded Dec. 13.

“We’re starting 2014 with a completely computerized series, but not Internet-based,” Hurt said. “If people see something on the Internet, that’s a scam.”

She has learned of students who paid money to get a GED degree online, and then discovered the degree was fraudulent when they applied for college or a job.

The registration fee covers the initial screening test, but there is no charge to study at the center.

When it’s time to take the four final exams, each part is $30. However, the Bank of North Dakota will provide scholarships to cover cost of two exams, she said.

“Also, if finances are holding you back, don’t hesitate to talk to us,” Hurt said. “We never want financial issues to get in the way of a GED.”

The GED tests for mathematical reasoning, language arts, science and social studies. It’s equivalent to a high school diploma, and most college will accept the degree, Hurt said.

The time to complete a GED varies greatly with the individual student. The courses may take several weeks or more than five years to finish.

The center’s English as a Second Language course is booming.

“More and more people are coming here for work with a variety of ethnicities,” she said.

In addition to Spanish-speaking students, she’s tutored students from Africa, South America, China, Japan and Russia.

“Students work one-on-one with our teachers,” she said. “We can start with gestures and pictures and sounds, and we also have people who have college degrees and want to brush up on their pronunciation, so we have a variety of levels.”

The Adult Learning Center is designed for students age 16 and older.

“It’s wonderful working with adults because they want to be here,” she said. “They want to learn and that makes such a difference in attitude.”

The 2014 schedule and description of classes is available online at

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