Adult and Continuing Education Program Information

Adult and continuing education programs are designed for non-traditional, adult students. These programs are offered through community centers, non-profit organizations, community colleges, vocational institutes and universities.

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For adults who want or need to continue their education, there are continuing education courses available in a wide range of subjects.

Types of Adult Education Programs

The terms 'adult education' and 'continuing education' are often used interchangeably to refer to classes for adult learners. Topics range from the fundamentals, such as literacy and GED programs, to life-enrichment courses, such as those in art and meditation, to career-related classes, such as those for professionals who need to periodically take continuing education (CE) courses to retain their licenses. Career-based classes are more often referred to as 'continuing education,' whereas the other classes might fall under either name.

Programs and classes may be taken for credit or non-credit and can culminate in a variety of credentials, including a GED or certificate. Scheduling is friendly to adult learners who work day jobs, with evening, weekend and online options available.

Adult and Continuing Education Program Details

Often grouped together are adult basic education courses (including literacy and math), programs covering the general education development (GED) test and English as a second language (ESL) classes. Basic literacy programs can help adults learn or improve their reading and writing skills, leading to enhanced performance on the job or in the classroom. General Educational Development (GED) test prep programs allow adults to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma. A GED credential can help students pursue further educational options. ESL classes help those whose primary language is one other than English. Students learn both spoken and written English.

Citizenship classes prepare adult learners for the examination to become a United States citizen. Preparation for this exam is especially important, because for many citizenship applicants, English is not their first language. ESL programs are also available to help adult students learn and improve their English language speaking abilities.

Adult learners typically take enrichment classes just for their own enjoyment, but they may also use them as a way to learn about a new career. Many subjects are available, including:

  • Budgeting
  • Software programs
  • Foreign languages
  • Plants, flowers and gardening
  • Creative writing
  • Food and wine
  • Crafting

Continuing Education Program Information

Many colleges and universities offer career-focused and academic continuing education programs. Continuing education courses are usually offered alongside traditional courses through the departments of colleges and universities. Different types of programs in continuing education are offered, including credit programs, non-credit programs and certificate programs. Continuing education courses may be offered on-campus or through distance learning options, such as online courses. Instruction is available in many areas, including:

  • Medical insurance billing
  • Accounting
  • Homeland security
  • Air conditioning and refrigeration
  • Electronics
  • Office technology
  • Automotive repair

Where to Find Adult and Continuing Education Programs

Programs in adult education are typically offered through the following bodies:

  • Community colleges
  • Technical schools
  • Learning centers
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Vocational institutes

These organizations may provide education for free, or they may require students to pay a fee. Residency requirements and other restrictions may also apply.

Those interested in life-enrichment classes may find them at college and universities, or through their local school district's community education program. For career-focused continuing education, classes are available at colleges, universities and organizations that specialize in continuing professional education.

Through adult and continuing education programs, adults can prepare for the GED exam or the citizenship exam. They can also improve their English or literacy skills, follow their interests with enrichment classes or take career-related classes.

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