What is Continuing Education?

Is going back to school worth it? Find out what continuing education classes can do for you.

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One of the best things about continuing education classes is that they are easier to access than ever before.

Continuing education, adult education and lifelong learning are all terms used to describe any class or learning environment that an adult attends in order to learn something new. Some people have to take continuing education classes for their work, while others do it on their own.

Have you thought about going back to school? If so, there’s good news: continuing education classes can enrich your life, help you earn more money and get you interested in new things. Find out what continuing education classes are all about to see if they’re right for you.

What are the goals of continuing education?

There are a ton of different types of continuing education classes available, from those that are work-related to those that are pure fun. Some of the main goals of continuing education classes include:

  • Earning a GED
  • Earning a college degree
  • Preparation for a standardized test
  • Professional certification
  • On-the-job training
  • Corporate training
  • Required training to receive a work promotion
  • Adding skills to your resume
  • Military training
  • Learning English as a second language
  • Pursuing personal interests
  • Volunteer services training

Obviously there are many potential benefits to taking continuing education classes. You can learn more about a subject you love, get ahead at work, or become involved with a great volunteer opportunity. In addition, you could also increase your earnings significantly over the course of your lifetime. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that while people with only a high school diploma make about $25,900 a year, those with a college degree make about $45,400 annually.

Where can I take continuing education classes?

One of the best things about continuing education classes is that they are easier to access than ever before. In addition to local colleges, learning facilities and professional conferences, there are now dozens of online colleges offering classes for adults who want to learn something new.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both online and traditional courses. If you choose an in-person continuing education class, you’ll get more direct access to a professor or teacher who can help you with your studies. In addition, certain classes are so hands-on that an online course won’t suffice. For instance, a cooking class or a welding class would be nearly impossible to take online.

On the other hand, online classes offer much more flexibility. Many adults take online continuing education classes while working full-time or part-time, making it easier to fit classes into their schedule. Online classes provide an ease of access and scheduling that in-person classes simply can’t offer.

Do a quick college search to find colleges that offer continuing education courses near you.

Is continuing education right for me?

Not sure if continuing education classes are right for you? The following are some questions you should think about before signing up for a continuing education opportunity:

  • Can I afford the class? Will the benefits outweigh the cost? (For example, will the promotion I can receive as a result justify spending money on continuing education classes?)
  • Do I have time to take a continuing education class? If I need a flexible class schedule, are the courses I need available online?
  • What will I get out of taking continuing education classes? Will continuing education improve my life in some way, whether it’s through personal development, professional opportunities or earning potential?

If you need more guidance, talk to an academic advisor or counselor at a local community college about available classes and what benefits these classes can provide.

Quick Facts

  • Many continuing education classes don’t run on the traditional semester-based schedule you’ll find at high schools and colleges. You may find courses that only require a few hours to complete or that are completed over the course of one year.
  • More than 860,000 adults take the GED test each year.
  • According to the Department of Education, in many states, the fastest growing area of college services at two-year colleges is workforce development.

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How School Has Changed: A Guide For Adult Students
Financial Aid Advice for Adults Going from Careers Back to College
Adult Student's Study Guide
The College Transfer Process: An Overview for Adult Students
Universities For Adult Students

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