Schools Offering Continuing Education Courses

Courses Increase Quality of Career and Life

Continuing education models corral a wide scope of adult learning that provide quality of life improvement. Professionals in all types of business and industry are expected to keep abreast of new technology, tools and techniques for their particular niche. Career changers seek sources for continuing education to beef up resumes and catch up on practical know-how directly targeted to their goals. High school drop-outs sign on for GED classes. Common examples such as these underscore the diversity of continuing education programs.

Enrichment vs. Career Requirement

Confusion often arises between the classes offered at regional community centers that provide pleasure and enrichment and those that offer skills and career oriented information. Classes in watercolors, retirement planning and Thai cooking, for example, are not official continuing education programs, they are instead personal enrichment classes. Continuing education programs are perhaps one of the most vague or diverse categories of higher learning. Courses are available at community colleges, traditional college and universities as well as through distance learning and online sources. Ultra specialized continuing education seminars and lectures are a growing business as well. Many large companies invite lecturers and instructors right into their boardrooms and conference centers where employees may earn continuing education units (CEUs), a requirement in some companies.

Community College as Continuing Ed Pioneer

I could easily say that my community college alma mater specialized in continuing education programs. Adult learners with career and skills requirements are a mainstay of the community college demographic. Think about it: community colleges are local, non-threatening environments for adult learners well past college or high school, and offer flexible and affordable courses and degree programs. Adults may take evening and weekend courses that provide skills in IT, foreign language, math and reading, business, and health professions. Technical equipment at the community college is often cutting edge, giving students the perfect practical classroom.

Continuing Ed Comes to a Traditional Campus Near You

A growing number of traditional colleges and universities have engaged with the local community and either reinforced or created from scratch pertinent and diverse continuing education programs that offer standalone courses as well as degrees. The intent, of course, is twofold: expand marketability in a high-demand market as well as deliver high quality and critical career training. Infrastructures already exist and classrooms and lecture halls previously sat vacant during off-peak hours.

Virtual Classroom

Distance learning is often considered a sub category of the larger continuing education realm. Programs primarily target career-oriented adult learners with serious constraints on their free time. While distance learning was scoffed at just a few short years ago, many have earned a solid reputation and the industry has spawned its own accreditation and metrics. Online courses are available 24/7, give students access to instructors, classmates and reference sources via some of the trendiest emerging technologies.

Online continuing education programs are no longer exclusive to virtual universities like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University, but traditional colleges and universities have launched their own online programs in limited supply. Students might only have to make it campus once or twice a term for a required lecture or an exam, otherwise they can access lectures, resources and online discussion boards from the comfort of home or on-the-go laptop.

Needs of Adult Learners

Whether at the community college level or the traditional college and university, continuing education students are taught by industry professionals and highly respected college professors. The distinguishing feature of continuing education, outside its flexible hours, is the pedagogy. Adult learners have far different needs than their college age counterparts. They require relevant and practical information delivered as expediently as possible; the more hands-on the better. This type of learning is known as experiential and it is the foundation of continuing education.

There will always be critics of any type of higher education outside the old-school college degree box. Continuing education fills an impressive chasm in the educational world and indications are that the demand and types of programs will only continue to grow. The population is wage earning and willing to plunk down the money to invest in their future and career.

Career Driven Classes

Continuing education programs are common in the medical field, including:

In common fields, such as nursing, there are numerous online program providers that offer credits. Continuing education credits are popular in many trades outside of the medical field, including:

Finance Continuing Education

Perhaps the biggest drawback is the financial factor. Students that attend college less than half-time are typically ineligible for most federal and state financial aid. And distance learning is still left out in the cold anyway you look at it. Alternative loans have recently become available that target the financial needs of continuing education students, but they are nothing more than customized personal loans. Some states offer grants and aid to adults who want to return to school.

The best news is that many companies provide tuition reimbursement for employees who return to the classroom. In most cases you are required to take courses related to your field, but some companies cover 100 percent of your bill.