NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Shocking numbers show more than 80,000 adults in Davidson County don't have a high school diploma or GED.
Inside a classroom the main goal is to learn, but sometimes students lose sight of that goal for one reason or another.
Take 31-year-old Michael Williams who in the 9th grade made a decision that affected the next 17-years of his life.
"Hanging around a different vibe of people, negative influences that veered me off the course to establish myself better at that time," said Williams.
At just 14-years- old, Williams decided to drop out of school, which lead him to selling drug, ultimately going to jail.
"I regret all the things I have done back in the day because it really messed up my life; for right now," said Williams.
But now he's back with teachers, books and learning again; something he abandoned nearly 20 years ago.
"We know that if you [earn] a GED you automatically increase you annual earning power by between 6 to 7 - thousand dollars a year. When you think in terms of that over a lifetime, that's a pretty significant amount of money," said Pamela Session, vice president of programs at the YWCA in Nashville.
With more than 80-thousand adults without a high school diploma or GED in Davidson County, Sessions says their services are greatly needed.
To help with their mission, Dollar General Literacy Foundation donated $350,000 for the GED program. That money will help pay for teachers, supplies for students and help pay for text books.
Sessions say, "It's a really good feeling to know that you've made a difference in the life of someone who thought they may not be able to achieve a GED."
For Williams, he says his eyes are on the prize and he hasn't looked back.
"I think everyone should get an education, but for myself; I see myself doing better though."
Starting in 2014 the changes to the GED test are expected to make the test harder. Among the changes, the test will be computer-based, possibly more expensive than the current $50 to $75 here in Tennessee.
For information on the YWCA GED classes offered six days a week in five locations in Davidson County, call 615-269-9922.