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Going Back to School is Good for Adults Too

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It’s the time of year for going back to school. But as I’ve written before, it’s not just kids who can benefit from getting an education.

When September arrives, many adults feel the urge to start learning something new, whether for personal growth or to get ahead on the job.

Here are some of the ways you can learn something new this fall season, including a number of ways to increase your knowledge quickly, easily, and as cost effectively as possible.

Take Courses

You can take part-time continuing education courses on a variety of topics offered by post-secondary institutions and the Calgary Board of Education’s Chinook Learning Services.

Continuing education offerings range from one-day classes to courses presented once a week for an entire semester. You could take a computer course, learn conflict resolution, or develop other skills helpful to your particular career.

On the personal side, you can learn more about almost any subject that interests you. You can even get tips on decorating a Christmas cake in a continuing education class at SAIT.

If you can invest more time in your education, you might earn a certificate or diploma to help you move forward in your career. Programs range from administration to animation to aromatherapy – and that’s just the ones starting with the letter “A”.

You can find a variety of educational programs advertised in the career pages of the Calgary Sun throughout the year. Recently, I’ve noticed Sun ads for everything from health care to security services.

As an alternative to taking classes in person, you could take a course or earn a certificate or diploma through distance learning. Correspondence courses can be taken by mail or online through a number of post-secondary institutions.

Some programs are offered in a shorter period of time so you can graduate more quickly. The educational organization I work with, International Association of Professions Career College offers six week certificate programs in non-traditional careers such as wedding planning, interior decorating, and image consulting.

The Alberta government offers an Employment, Training and Career Services Directory. This site offers lists of a variety of programs in areas such as computer skills training, pre-employment programs, and workplace training. Also included are programs for groups with special needs, including immigrants, persons with disabilities, and youth.

Many workers can also benefit from taking a type of course they may never have considered — sales. According to sales expert Tom Hopkins, author of Selling for Dummies, “even if you are not directly involved in selling products and services, you ARE selling yourself every day.”

“You sell someone on hiring you. You sell co-workers on your abilities and in getting their cooperation. You sell upper management on projects, ideas and pay increases,” says Tom/

“Having a basic knowledge of how people make ‘buying’ decisions and how to communicate effectively with them (‘selling’) is one of the best skills you can develop to get ahead in any career,” he adds.

More Ways to Learn

You can be a lifelong learner by continually looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to increase your knowledge. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Watch educational television shows. Although Canadian Learning Television no longer exists (it was replaced by OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network), educational shows are offered on cable stations including CTV Two (formerly Access TV) which has a list of programs.
  • Join professional or industry associations. Many offer a variety of educational opportunities including luncheon speakers, workshops, conferences, and newsletters.
  • Take training programs offered by your employer.
  • Go on information interviews to learn about new careers from people currently working in those careers.
  • Get someone to coach you in a new skill.
  • Learn by doing. Volunteer to help a local charitable organization in an area you want to learn more about.
  • Read books to learn a new skill or discover how to break into a new career.
  • Also check the Internet to find articles and e-books on a variety of career topics.

 
If you have the resources and time, consider going on a cruise. Many cruise lines offer enrichment programs with speakers on a variety of topics.

Whether you’re taking a college class or learning on the job, educational opportunities are everywhere. So take advantage of this year’s “back to school” season by learning something new.

Tag Goulet is co-founder of FabJob, a publisher of books on how to get started in a dream careers, and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College. Contact Tag on Facebook or visit FabJob.com.

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