HiSet: A Step Closer to Achieving the Impossible

In an increasingly demanding workforce environment where businesses require a more technical skill set and higher education degrees, what better time to continue your education than now? According to IBA’s HiSet Program Coordinator, Tiana Bonner, “all it takes is the motivation to excel.” The College and Workforce Program offers students the opportunity to do just this.

The HiSet Exam (formerly known as the GED) provides participants with a Massachusetts State diploma; but our free 15-week HiSet prep-course does more than just help students earn their degree – we offer individualized teaching, childcare, financial help to offset testing costs, life skills workshops, workforce preparation, and a support system you not many programs have.

According to Nickole Sutherland, a student, the benefits are clear, “The path to success seemed almost out of reach,” until she discovered IBA’s HiSet class and felt that “a great weight had been lifted from [her] shoulders.”

Professor Philip Howard, comes to us from Bunker Hill Community College to teach this cumulative course that covers all 5 subjects – math, social studies, reading, writing, and science – on the Massachusetts state HiSet Exam. Howard has been teaching the program for many years and Bonner said his continued presence often inspires previous students who were unable to complete the program in the past to return. Each section of the course allows for a maximum of 14 students, so the small class sizes allow for individualized learning and teaching.

“It’s a multi-level course where each student coming in is at their own level, so Phil and I work together to create a plan for each student,” said Bonner. She boasted that the program is able to offer what a lot of other programs cannot, “Some students need a little bit more individualized attention than others and we’re able to do that.”


Students like Fausto Cepeda reported feeling “eager to learn” about subjects they never expected to improve upon, let alone actually enjoy. Cepeda said it’s because of the HiSet course that he is able to solve math problems he “had no idea how to solve before,” and he “discovered [his] interest in history.” Cepeda told us, overall, “This program has made me feel more secure.”

Bonner explained, “Phil is the teacher and my role is to help a student overcome any other barriers they may be facing so that they are able to stay in the program for 15-weeks.” She mentioned that her support is expected in areas like housing and childcare, but also that “students themselves should expect to earn their degree – that’s what they came here for – but also, a bit more.”

Other than the unique learning approach, the program offers life skill workshops including topics like “Healthy Communication” and “Healthy Relationships.” Another workshop that students find helpful teaches “Financial Literacy;” for instance, even though IBA covers $64 of the $100 exam cost, some students find the remaining $36 testing cost a burden, but Bonner explained that the financial planning class allows individuals to learn how to budget for this expense.

For those seeking to attend college, our final HiSet class of the year starts September 6 and ends December 15 – just in time to register for Spring university courses! According to Bonner,“Every student who goes through our HiSet program is eligible to receive a scholarship to help pay for classes through Bunker Hill. We have a Bunker Hill program manager here twice a week – students can come here to apply, register, and do financial aid without having to wait in the long lines at the main campus, and we have workshops to make sure they are very well informed before they actually set foot on a campus.”


For students who wish to pursue other paths after earning their degree, Bonner said, “We teach a general skillset that is needed for a workforce environment, and then we look into specifics for each student and branch off in that capacity.”

Ana Mayo, a student shared how receiving her diploma is helping her fulfill her career dreams, “After this experience, I will be able to get my certification in cosmetology and become a cosmetologist.” She went on to thank Howard and Bonner, “I appreciate everything [they’ve] done for me, trying [their] hardest to make sure I was trying my hardest.”

Sutherland praised the program, “[After being] a scholar here, I will inevitably be able to pursue endeavors I once thought were unattainable.”

Remember, no goal is impossible! To take a step further toward reaching your dreams make sure to register for our final HiSet Course of 2016 by contacting our HiSet Program Coordinator Tiana Bonner at (617) 399-1964 or

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