What Is Adult Education?

Adult education programs and courses are offered by secondary schools, community colleges, universities and other institutions. These programs prepare students to enter a new industry, advance their careers, earn a degree or learn for personal enrichment.

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Adult education programs are generally offered as a way for adults to earn their high school equivalency diploma or to gain further knowledge in their chosen profession. Options are widely available at training centers and colleges, both on-campus and online.

What Is Adult Education?

Adult education programs are generally continuing education programs for those older than standard high school or college age. Most commonly this is an adult who would like to earn a GED, become specialized in a particular technical or business skill in order to advance their career, return to or begin a degree program, or simply take a class on a topic they are interested in.

Workforce Training Programs

Every state offers adult education programs that provide basic math, English, reading and job skills training to students who want to enter the workforce or advance their careers. Adult education programs are typically free and offered through secondary schools and state-run training centers.

These programs usually offer classes to help students earn their high school equivalency diplomas. Courses cover such subjects as:

  • English as a second language
  • English literacy
  • Business
  • Math

Most adult education schools also offer entry-level training in professions such as office administration, health care and computer operations. Other programs include personal enrichment classes focusing on topics like music, art, cooking and parenting.

College and University Programs

Colleges and universities also provide adult education programs through their continuing education departments. While some 2-year schools offer high school equivalency and job skills training, adult education in these settings is typically designed for applicants who hold high school diplomas and want to advance their careers.

In some cases, instruction can be applicable toward undergraduate and graduate degrees or certificates in areas such as:

  • Economics
  • Construction management
  • Accounting
  • Religion
  • Sociology

Postsecondary adult education programs also provide non-credit courses in a wide range of subjects, from French and leadership development to fire service management and dietetics.

Distance Learning Programs

Colleges and universities commonly offer adult education courses and degree programs via distance learning, though fewer program options are available than in on-campus formats. Despite fewer options, the programs that are available offer a wide array of potential classes, such as:

  • Communications
  • Biology
  • English
  • Geography

A distance learning program may be accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency such as the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) or recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The DETC maintains a database of accredited schools offering distance learning adult education programs and courses.

Whether through a training center or a college, adult education courses are a great way to earn a GED, advance your career through job training, or simply learn a new skill that interests you.

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