Returning to school as an adult can be a significant step forward, whether for personal enrichment or professional advancement. But with numerous adult learning options available, how can you be sure you’re picking the right one? We’ve put together seven critical factors to consider.
1. Faculty Qualifications and Experience
Before you invest time and money in a class, you want to make sure you’ll have experienced educators at the helm. Most schools and institutions of learning offer print or online brochures that summarize the faculty’s qualifications.
Check out teacher bios and real-world experience along with any reviews or testimonials offered by previous students. The richness of a course often derives from the depth of its instructor’s experience.
2. Meeting Continuing Education Requirements
If you’re pursuing a class for professional reasons, does it align with any continuing education credits or certifications you need? Ensure that the course will be recognized by your industry or any relevant accrediting bodies.
Also, be sure you understand how to document and submit your continuing education (CE) credits. Many fields have specifications for how to do so and may not recognize submissions that fall outside of the guidelines.
3. Class Composition
Being around peers who have similar goals and life experiences can enhance your learning experience. You may want to look into the typical class composition for the courses you are considering. Will the class be composed of fellow adult learners or will you be enrolling in a course that is typically attended by those who are freshmen or sophomores at a four-year university?
The age range may or may not be important to you, but it could impact the way the class is taught. Be sure you have a grasp on the classroom dynamics to understand if they’re suitable for your needs.
4. Flexible Schedule
Many adult learners need a flexible schedule when it comes to continuing education. Most are juggling work commitments, family duties, or both. Ensure both the class start time and duration align with your schedule.
For instance, if a class is offered in the evenings, late afternoons, or weekends, it may be more suitable for working professionals or parents.
5. Balancing Course Intensity
While challenging yourself is commendable, it’s crucial to ensure you can realistically handle the course load. Take the full picture of your life into consideration. A class that starts at 6 p.m. may accommodate your work schedule but may interfere with family responsibilities if it lasts for two or three hours.
Review the syllabus and course expectations, and perhaps even chat with an advisor or past student to gauge the workload.
6. Emphasis on Practical Experience
Theory is vital, but so is hands-on application, especially in certain fields. Does the course provide opportunities for real-world application, workshops, or practical sessions? This can make a difference in how well you grasp and apply the concepts taught.
7. Course Relevancy and School Reputation
Lastly, ensure the curriculum is updated and in line with current industry trends or academic research. It’s also beneficial to pick an institution with a good reputation in the field of study you’re considering. This adds weight to any certification or recognition you gain post-completion.
Choosing the right adult learning class is key to achieving your goals. With these seven factors in mind, you’ll be better equipped to select a course that not only aligns with your objectives but also fits seamlessly into your life. Remember, the best learning experience is one that challenges you, resonates with your goals, and accommodates your unique life situation.