Continuing Education - is it for me?
“Woohoo! More school work!” said almost no one ever. Sure, there are people who love school and continue taking courses throughout their life. I am not one of those people. As I crossed the stage and received my undergraduate degree, I was certain I would never be taking another college course ever again. Or so I thought. After being settled in my job for a few years, I overheard a co-worker talking about the paper she had to write last night for the online course she was taking and it got me thinking. She has 3 kids, works full-time, and still has time to take classes? How can this be? After looking into it some more, I realized a few things: (1) taking a few courses directly related to my job will benefit me and my company, (2) many course are offered online, increasing flexibility, and (3) many companies offer tuition reimbursement. So I could get smarter, possibly make more money, and not have to pay anything to do it? Alright, let’s do this!
What’s the plan?
Continuing education is completely customizable.
- What are your goals? Earn your GED, college degree, or add skills to your resume. Lifelong learning can include any personal interests like learning another language or obtaining a professional certification. I chose to focus on courses related to my current position, improving my skills to become a more valuable employee.
- Where do you want to take classes? Online is the easiest and most flexible, however many schools/colleges still offer day and evening class for continuing education. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Online is flexible and can be done from anywhere, however if you want more direct access to your professor and collaborate with other students you may want to choose a more traditional classroom setting. Since I have a family, online classes were the best for me. I could get my classwork done during my lunch hour at work or after my kids went to bed at night.
- Can you afford it? Many companies offer some sort of tuition reimbursement. For me, I was responsible for paying for the course and as long as I passed with a B or better, they would reimburse 100%. If that’s not an option, you might want to check into student loans, a personal loan, or even a home equity line of credit to help cover the cost. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has a great list of fund sources as well as cost-saving alternatives for education like webinars or conferences.
Where do I start?
In New Hampshire, we are fortunate to have a multitude of options when it comes to continuing education. The New Hampshire Department of Education has a list of all the schools, colleges, and technical centers where you can browse the different courses or certification offerings. However, there are academic institutions across the country that offer online course as well as sites like ed2go that offer courses you can take at a time fits your schedule.
Continuing your education may not be a part of your plans right now, but it’s nice to know that you can have a say as to how, when, and why you choose to go back to school. If you are ready to go back, or have already started, we’d love to hear what courses you are taking and where you are taking them.
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