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Leading Extension and Continuing Education programs

Why continue your education? How will it benefit you in the workforce or your personal life? Surely going back to school comes at a huge effort and cost, and wouldn’t be a feasible option within your current working hours? Not so. In fact, in a workforce where continuing education is not only increasingly celebrated but increasingly required, both benefits and options for access have seen exponential growth.

Let’s begin by discussing the why. The first obvious benefit of continuing education is salary increase. A recent study by Georgetown University has indicated that over the course of a lifetime, a college graduate will earn on average US$1,000,000 more than their non-college educated counterparts. This would indicate that any initial investment you make in your continuing education is likely to be returned tenfold. For those seeking employment, it’s worth noting that an ever-increasing number of employers now require some form of degree or certification as a pre-requisite for any employee joining their company, so continuing education could very well be the first necessary step towards the career of your dreams.

For those already in employment, it’s worth noting that continuing education benefits not only you but also your employer. It stands to reason that a skilled employee turns over higher profits and is more productive throughout working hours. In fact, many employers offer to fund the continuing education of their employees, recognising just how big the benefits of upskilling are.

Perhaps you’re employed but feel unhappy in your current role. Re-training in another field or upskilling in your current profession could be the push you need to give yourself the confidence and knowledge needed to chase new opportunities.

Beyond employment prospects, many people choose to pursue further education simply as a passion. Perhaps there’s a language you always wanted to learn, or a skill you’ve always wished you had. Well, there are plenty of continuing education options that focus on lifelong learning for personal enrichment, both face-to-face and online.

Now that we’ve touched on the why, let’s discuss the how. Pursuing a traditional full-time degree isn’t a viable financial option for many adults. Additionally, a full degree may not be necessary if it’s an isolated skill that you wish to learn. Many schools have responded to the needs of people returning to education by providing options such as online learning, which removes the need to relocate to be close to your chosen school. Additionally, many offer non-credit courses that don’t have a time limit for completion, allowing you to slot your study time in around your working hours, rather than vice versa. This article will discuss options available at a number of US universities in the for those hoping to pursue continuing education…

DIVISION OF CONTINUING EDUCATION (DCE), UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE

Our first school is located on California’s famous ‘technology coast’, making it a solid option for those hoping to retrain or upskill in the business or tech sector. The location, directly on the pulse of the tech world’s beating heart and minutes from the breath-taking beaches of Orange County, is incomparable. Beyond the setting, the academics are equally impressive. Although only founded in 1962, University of California, Irvine (UCI) has achieved the notable accolade of being ranked in the Top 10 public universities nationwide.

The DCE provides a dedicated, specialised service for UC Irvine’s global applicants. Students here can, for example, take their English Language skills to the next level, opting to pursue either a 10-week intensive program; a 4-, 8- or 12-week course in Conversation and Culture; or a 4-, 8- or 12-week program in Business English. The Division also provides comprehensive university prep programs, ensuring participants leave equipped with the skills that will help them thrive through higher education and beyond. Those students and professionals looking to enhance the value of their degree  can do so through  DCE’s wide array of on-campus, postgraduate certificates — in fields like Digital Marketing, Data Science, Innovation Management, and more. These accelerated certificate programs give students the option to pursue an integrated internship placement and even become eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT), an additional year of full-time employment in their respective field.

CONTINUING EDUCATION, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

Pennsylvania-based Temple University offers continuing education courses to a wide variety of students. Here, courses are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The school also offers the option for current high school students to take individual modules under the continuing education program.

A diverse range of non-credit courses are available for those looking to enhance their career or pursue personal interests – everything from marketing using social media to ballroom dancing is on offer.

Specialised courses for the over 50s are available at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Temple’s city centre campus, focusing on encouraging the ‘joy of learning’, without traditional examinations.

For groups of professionals looking for short courses focused on upskilling in a specific topic, corporate training sessions are also offered at Temple.

COLLEGE OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

Boston-based Northeastern offers a variety of programs for those interested in continuing education. Its BA degrees are career-focused and can be undertaken in class, online or otherwise through a combination of both, so they can be tailored to suit whatever hours you have to work.

Northeastern also offers a range of professional programs for those looking to advance their education as graduates, available at the certificate, Masters or doctoral level. Again, these courses are available both face-to-face and online or through a combination, meaning that a prospective student can make the best choice based on their own timetables and learning styles.

Those undertaking further study to advance specific professional goals are certain to find use in the broad range of career resources available at Northeastern. Those hoping to use continuing education as a means to switch to a completely new career can take advantage of the school’s experiential learning programs. Not only will you leave Northeastern with a qualification in your new career field, but you’ll also have gained invaluable practical work experience.

For those returning to education after a long break, Northeastern’s strong collection of academic resources will offer the support needed to take this exciting step as a lifelong learner.

DISTANCE & CONTINUING EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

University of Florida offers a variety programs that are ideal for people already in the workforce looking to upskill. Their non-credit based online programs can be undertaken from any location, and the beauty of them is that there are no set time limits for when the coursework must be completed. Here, students work entirely at their own pace, providing flexibility that can suit any busy lifestyle.

For those looking to advance their education at high school level to increase your chances of college admission, the University of Florida also has the option of a dual enrolment program. Again, this program is delivered entirely online and can be undertaken from any location.

You can also work on a distance learning program from the comfort of your home – these are all offered entirely online by University of Florida, with a number of options available at the Doctorate, Specialist, Masters and Bachelor-level.

To obtain a new qualification while maintaining your current location and lifestyle is a great option for those of limited financial means.

No matter what your reason or goal behind re-entering education, it’s obvious from even the short list of institutions introduced above that there is an option that fits any student. At the beginning of this article, we posed the question: why return to education? Perhaps knowing what you know now, the question should instead be: why not?

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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