Online Continuing Education
Learning does not stop once you graduate from high school or college. Your career may require you to attend classes to stay current on the latest industry trends. Other careers will require you to take additional classes to earn a license. Some people will decide to go back to school and just take a class in a subject that interests them. What do these scenarios have in common? They are all examples of continuing education.
Continuing education classes help you advance your knowledge and understanding about a particular topic. These classes may be used for career training, career advancement, or just for personal enrichment. There seems to be no limit to the number of topics you can study. You can take classes on business topics like management, marketing, public relations, or human resource management. Some continuing education classes can help you earn certification as a photographer, financial planner, legal assistant, and more. Personal enrichment classes may teach you how to speak a foreign language, write a novel, paint, or dance. Students may also take continuing education classes to help prepare for standardized exams like the GED, LSAT, TOEFL, or SAT.
Certain professions will require you to take continuing education classes throughout your entire career. Doctors, nurses, and dentists will take these classes in order to keep their licenses current and earn additional certifications. CPAs will take continuing education classes to stay informed of updates to the tax code and financial regulations. Engineers and lawyers are also required to take continuing education classes to learn about the latest regulations and laws governing their industries.
Continuing education classes will typically award non-degree credits. These classes are not intended to replace a traditional four-year degree program. Continuing education students select a topic they are interested in, and enroll in the class or program. They are not required to complete pre-requisite classes like English, science, or math. There are no long applications to fill out, or standardized tests to take, like the ACT, SAT, or GRE, in order to be accepted into the program.
Students attending continuing education classes are typically adults. These adults have already graduated from high school or college and have begun their careers. They are returning to school to learn just a little bit more about a particular subject. Classes are usually taken at a four-year college or university, community college, or vocational school. Some classes will even be offered remotely, via distance learning. Because so many continuing education students work during the day, classes are usually held at night and during the weekend.
Pursuing continuing education classes will take time and effort on your part. You will be taking time out of your busy schedule to attend classes, prepare for exams, and complete projects. Plus, you may pay a few hundred dollars to attend just one class, so you may be asking yourself, is it worth it to take a few classes?
The benefits of continuing your education are tremendous. Here's a look at just a few of those benefits:
- Improves Your Qualifications - The job market is competitive. Any advantage you can have over your competition improves your chances of landing the job. Taking a few continuing education classes relevant to your field bolsters your qualifications and shows your determination and dedication to your career.
- Earning Potential/Career Advancement - Very few people want to keep the same job for their entire career. They want to advance and earn more money. Their work will help them achieve this. Continuing education classes can help out, too. These classes help an employer see the initiative their employees have taken to learn more about their field. This can help them be considered for better positions and promotions.
- Interests - Life is not just about work. It is also important to have interests. Continuing education classes can help you pursue those interests and help you meet people. These activities can improve your overall self-confidence. Many people who have taken continuing education classes for personal enrichment have discovered that they can turn those interests into a full-time career.
Choosing a Continuing Education Program
Continuing education programs are increasingly popular with adult students. The number of professions that require continuing education continues to climb. Professionals have discovered how beneficial these programs can be when it comes to advancing their career. However, continuing education is not just for the career-oriented person; there are plenty of programs designed just for personal enrichment. This means there are thousands of different continuing education programs to choose from.
Not all continuing education programs are created equally, so how do you choose the right program for you? First, you need to decide what your goal is for continuing education. Is it mandated by the state, required by your employer, or are you pursuing these classes on your own? Next, you need to determine how you learn best. Is it through self-study, the classroom experience, online, or through workshops? Then, you need to decide where you want to take these classes. Universities, community colleges, associations, and independent organizations offer a variety of continuing education programs.
Examine a few different programs. Make sure the material will meet your requirements and look at the variety of classes offered. Learn who will be teaching the class. Will an established professor, industry expert, or a teaching assistant be leading the class? Learn what the student-to-teacher ratio in class will be. Will you have the opportunity to interact with the teacher, or will you be just one of a thousand in a conference hall?
Carefully review the organization or association that is offering the program. Colleges and universities should be accredited. Accreditation ensures the school is providing a high-quality program taught by a knowledgeable, seasoned faculty. Employers put more emphasis and value on programs from accredited schools. Continuing education programs are also offered by professional associations and independent organizations. Do a little research and make sure these institutions are legitimate and well-established in your industry. This is especially important if you are required to take a specific class for a license or certification. Unfortunately, scams do exist in this industry.
There are a variety of ways to continue your education based on your learning style. Distance learning is a popular way to complete these programs. You have the convenience of attending class right in your own home, and you get to interact with students from across the country. However, distance learning is not for everyone. Some people want a more personalized learning experience. They may choose an actual classroom setting, or attend seminars and workshops.
Cost is an important factor, too. Check to see if your employer provides tuition reimbursement, particularly if these classes are a requirement of your job. Ask the school about any financial aid packages they offer. Also, check with professional associations of which you are a member. They often offer discounts for continuing education classes or seminars.
Benefits of Continuing Education
Many adults will decide to take continuing education classes at some point in their lives. The reasons for taking continuing education classes are vast. Companies may send their employees to these classes. States might mandate continuing education classes to practice certain professions. Some people decide to take continuing education to better their career opportunities. Others just enjoy learning and take a few classes for personal enrichment.
- Improves Qualifications
- Higher Earning Potential
- Wider Range of Job Opportunities
- Improving Sense of Self-Confidence
These classes take time out of your busy work and personal schedule. You must commit to attending the class and completing the required projects. The benefits of continuing education far outweigh the cost and time you will invest. These classes will help you advance your career and personal goals. Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits:
- Continuing education is a quick way to help you develop your career. You do not have to go back to college and study for a degree. You can pick a few classes in areas that you need improvement in or just want to learn a little more about. Apply those concepts you learned in class to your job. Watch your confidence grow as you are able to take on more projects and assignments.
- Continuing education classes can be used to increase your employment and income potential. Education will help you perform your job better. You have learned the latest successful trends in your field and are able to apply them. You become more employable because of your knowledge and are eligible for higher-paying positions. You may also be able to pick from a variety of jobs, based on the knowledge you have amassed.
- Continuing education classes can be used to learn about new careers. Some people feel stuck in their job. They know there is something better out there, but are not sure exactly what that is. They decide to enroll in a few continuing education classes to learn more about photography, business, or medicine. These classes may help them decide to pursue an entirely different career path than the one they are currently on.
- Many people enjoy just learning. They are not necessarily looking to advance their career. They have a particular interest and want to learn more about it. They want to expand their horizons and interact with people who have similar interests. Continuing education can help them do just that. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of continuing education classes dedicated to a variety of non-career-related subjects. You could study art, literature, winemaking, philosophy, cooking, and quilting, just to name a few.
Last Updated: 05/15/2014