ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Getting a job can be difficult, especially without an education. Right now about 50,000 people in Winnebago and Boone counties do not have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certification. That is why the first GED fair will be held in Rockford Wednesday, January 18th.
Destiny Taylor has never been to high school; she dropped out after eighth grade.
"I chose to forget high school to hang out with all my friends on the streets," said Taylor.
But more than three years later she realized her lifestyle wasn't working.
Taylor said, "Me losing friends that encouraged me to stop going to school and eventually they started going to school."
That is why she's now testing at the Regional Office of Education in Loves Park, to get her GED.
Nineteen-year-old Grant Johnson is also testing for his GED after he quit Jefferson High School two years ago; a school that had the highest drop out rate last year.
About 2,000 people come to the Regional Office of Education every year to take the GED test. many realize that without it they won't get a job.
Johnson said, "The job opportunities that are out there are for people with a college degree."
Shawn Healy knows that first hand.
Healy said, "I actually applied at Chrysler and they said yeah ok, but no school."
That is why Healy didn't get the job and why he is now testing for his GED.
"When it comes down to it, you don't want to be 30 and not have a job and have a place to live because you need a good education to make it in the world."
And to make a decent wage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says nationwide, the average weekly salary for people with a Bachelor's degree is more than 1,000. Without a high school diploma, it's $444 a week.
"There's not really anything exciting about sitting around wasting your life, just get up and do it, it's worth it in the end," said Taylor.
In 2011, 1,700 people took the GED tests and 750 people graduated. That is 100 more people than the prior year.
To take the GED test you must be at least 17-years-old, it also costs $50. Right now the tests are done on paper, but come 2014, they will go digital to computers.
Anyone who is looking to get their high school diploma equivalent is welcome to attend the GED fair from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Heartland Church in Rockford tomorrow. The ROE will be registering and giving out six $50 vouchers to take the GED test.
To register for the GED with the Regional Office of Education anytime, call 815-636-3060. You can register Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.