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What Is an Adult School?

Adult schools are designed to provide training for students over the age of 16 who have not completed high school or who wish to further their education. Adult schools can provide classes in career training, language skills, test preparation and continuing education.

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Adult schools most commonly offer courses and programs covering English as a second language (ESL), citizenship training, career education, community education and GED exam preparation. Because these programs are aimed at working adults, adult schools have features aimed to make learning convenient and not a hardship.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Adult Schools Overview

Adult schools are available for adult learners and offer everything from GED preparation programs to vocational training, often at little to no cost. Often, the schools offer programs in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate the needs of adults working full-time jobs. In addition, many adult schools offer child care facilities for students with young children. Some adult schools also offer online classes. A student can take classes at his or her convenience, which may help people who work or who have personal commitments that prevent them from completing an in-person educational program.

Adult education may be provided through a variety of institutions, including:

  • Community colleges
  • Technical schools
  • Vocational schools
  • High schools
  • Community centers

English as a Second Language

ESL courses are offered at most adult schools. These courses can help non-native speakers improve their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. They may cover topics such as grammar and help students improve their accents. By gaining language skills through ESL courses, English language learners are better equipped to meet the challenges of living in a community and working at job where English is the primary language of communication.

U.S. Citizenship

Adult schools may offer classes that prepare students for the U.S. citizenship interview and test. These classes often integrate English language skills with lessons on American history, government and civics. Often, they also include practice interviews so that students know what to expect. In addition, individuals can seek instructor help filling out their applications.

Career Education

Many schools provide career-oriented training programs that teach adult students skills that are specific to an occupation. Available fields of career education include:

  • Food service
  • Insurance billing
  • Nursing
  • Groundskeeping
  • Office administration

Public schools that are operated by the government or a school district may not charge tuition, making it easier for an adult to access them. Private schools also offer career education, usually with tuition costs. An online database of private vocational schools is available through Real World Matters (RWM), a private organization.

Community Education

Many adult schools, community colleges and even universities provide community education courses for adults in a variety of subjects. These courses may cover important life skills, such as the following:

  • Computer technology
  • Personal finance
  • Parenting

Courses may also enable adults to pursue certain hobbies and interests, such as:

  • Photography
  • Dance
  • Cooking

GED Preparation

Many adult schools offer General Educational Development (GED) exam preparation, which can allow students to earn their high school equivalency certificate. Classes are available through self-paced online study or through traditional in-person classes. Courses can be taken in both English and Spanish. These prep classes cover the four areas of reasoning that are tested on the exam:

  • Language arts
  • Social studies
  • Mathematical reasoning
  • Science

Adult schools can help adults learn English, prepare for the GED or citizenship exam, bolster their careers or improve their skills in areas of personal interest.

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