That's why a pair of local agencies are hosting two adult education classes in Quarryville this spring.
Solanco Neighborhood Ministries and the Southern End Community Association are working with Intermediate Unit-13 and the Lancaster-Lebanon Literacy Council to offer GED and English as a second language classes. The classes will begin in April and run through June.
Solanco Neighborhood Ministries has also had similar calls, director Teresa Dolan said.
"We get requests for the GED classes a couple times a month," Dolan said. The Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program has also asked if the ministry could sponsor an English as a second language course, she said.
The ministry made arrangements with the intermediate unit to offer the classes and then partnered with SECA to make space available.
The GED program is for adults who left high school before earning their diplomas. The ESL class is for people who are not native English language speakers.
Earning a general equivalency diploma "is an accomplishment that opens other, higher-paying jobs and allows someone to go on to post-secondary education if they wish," said instructor Laura Binkley.
While the classes are free, the students will have to pay for the tests, she said.
Students can either take a series of written tests for a total fee of $90 or tests given on a computer for $120. Both sets of tests will be given in Lancaster; each test in the set takes about an hour and a half to complete.
"Each student and the instructor will decide when the student is ready to take the tests," Binkley said.
Students who pass the tests will receive diplomas from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
The ESL class will also help students get better jobs, Dolan said.
"If people can communicate better, they can get better jobs," she said.
While the GED class will follow a prescribed curriculum, the ESL class's direction will depend on the skills and needs of the people taking the course, instructor Linda Cullen said.
"We expect to get a sense of what's needed after we assess the skills of the people who are going to attend and what their goals are," Cullen said. "We expect they will mostly want to improve their fluency in speaking and understanding. Depending on who comes, it can be mostly verbal or it can include reading and writing. The objectives will be set by the students themselves."
Sponsors believe this is the first time the GED class has been offered in the Southern End.
"We feel there is a need," Binkley said. "We have offered our classes in the city [Lancaster] and we hope to find people who can attend classes that are offered closer to home."
Area churches have offered ESL classes in the past, Dolan said.
Registration and information sessions for the ESL classes will be held at SECA, 299 Park Ave., Quarryville, from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 27 and 29 and on April 3 and April 5.
The registration and information sessions for the GED classes will also be at SECA and will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on March 26 and 28.
Both classes are free and are offered to anyone age 18 and older.
"We have had students who came to earn their GED when they were in their 70s," Binkley said.
The General Equivalency Diploma class covers subjects that must be mastered to earn a state-issued diploma. The classes will be given from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, starting April 4 and finishing on June 11.
The English as a second language classes will also be given at SECA and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The classes will begin on April 10 and wrap up on June 28.
Child care will not be provided for either class.