Jeshua Mickelson, left, accompanied by teacher Karen Miller, proudly shows his diploma earned through the National External Diploma Program, a free program available at the Feather River Adult School, located at 501 Main St. in Quincy. Photo submitted

Free program at Feather River Adult School offers alternate route to diploma

When Plumas County resident Jeshua Mickelson, as an adult, realized that having a diploma would create opportunities for him both personally and professionally, he visited the Feather River Adult School (FRAS) in Quincy, located at 501 Main St. and talked with husband and wife teaching team Karen and Brad Miller about the various options available to earn a diploma.

After some discussion, they agreed that the National External Diploma Program (NEDP) might be a good choice for him; NEDP students do not complete courses like algebra and physics. Instead, they demonstrate high school level competency in nine different fields that apply to everyday life:

  • Applied Math/Numeracy
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Civic Literacy and Community Participation
  • Consumer Awareness and Financial Literacy
  • Cultural Literacy
  • Geography and History
  • Health Literacy
  • Science
  • Twenty-First Century Workplace

For example, to demonstrate a competency in Geography, Mickelson researched a mine in Montana where blasting had created a poisonous lake. He showed how the mine and the subsequent poisoned lake had an effect on the economy of the area. The next step of completing the Geography competency was to demonstrate 100 percent mastery of his chosen topic through answering a series of pre-scripted questions with teacher Karen Miller.

When Miller was satisfied with Mickelson’s responses, he was then evaluated by a NEDP teacher at the national level. “If he didn’t reach 100 percent, he went back to his research to learn more until he could pass,” says Miller. “There’s no penalty for not having all the answers, but you do have to keep working until you can get to 100 percent.”

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 Many of the competencies apply to everyday life. In the 21st Century Workplace competency, Mickelson researched jobs in the area, selected one, and created a resume and cover letter for it. He learned job interview strategies and then held a mock interview with his assessor. In the competency Consumer Awareness and Financial Literacy, he created a budget to help him manage his money more efficiently. It’s these real-life situations that make this program so appealing to older or nontraditional students.

After successfully completing the nine fields of competency, Mickelson is the first FRAS student to complete the NEDP and receive a diploma, which is equal in every way to a high school diploma.

Earning his diploma through NEDP has been a positive experience for Mickelson. “I really felt like there wasn’t anything out there for me,” Mickelson said, referring to traditional high school diploma programs. He found test taking to be anxiety producing and needed to work at his own pace for the best outcome. The NEDP’s flexible format “really takes the pressure off,” he said, and allowed him to do work he was proud of.

“I feel like it’s definitely going to open doors for me,” Mickelson said, grinning. With a diploma, he is a qualified applicant for more jobs. He said, “I’m curious about all kinds of things, like forestry and astronomy,” and a diploma makes following those interests more of a reality.

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To learn more about NEDP or other options that lead to a diploma/equivalency, contact Feather River Adult School at (530) 283-1003 or stop by their office at 501 Main St. in Quincy.

Learn more about Adult Education in Plumas and Sierra Counties here: https://featherriveradulted.org/