Continuing education is instructional course designed to provide people with the necessary skills to keep up in their field. While this might at times mean going back to college to receive a degree, most often it means taking courses occasionally to either keep abreast of new developments in a student’s professional career, or to retain certification in licensed professions such as nursing.
In either case, continuing education provides the courses necessary for those seeking credentialed programs with certified instructors. Courses are generally taught at night and many options are available, such as how often the class meets and when. It’s all dependant on the institution and number of students involved; generally the bigger the institution, the more options. Unfortunately, the bigger institutions also generally charge more.
Students who take part in continuing education, for the most part find it a challenge, due to the fact that most have full time day jobs. Finding time not only to attend the classes but to study and read materials leave little time for much else. In addition, there are costs associated with attending school such as tuition fees, books and sometimes lab fees. There are also transportation costs and sometimes loss of wages if students take time off of work to cram for a test or complete a project. For those students who are married, or especially those with children, continuing education becomes a major undertaking.
Because of the speed with which technology is advancing, most major colleges, universities and community colleges offer continuing education programs. In addition to providing a community service, schools have found that it is cost effective due to the addition of courses offered during off hours when buildings would otherwise go unoccupied.
Continuing education is a rather new phenomenon in American society, having only become widespread in the last two decades. The consensus is that new technology and its incorporation into business at an accelerated rate, combined with women occupying more and more professional rolls, has contributed to the need for and subsequent rise in the spread of continuing education programs. As an added note, it is also assumed to be the reason that many smaller schools have devoted themselves almost exclusively to continuing education programs that are geared towards just a handful of occupations, namely nursing, medical specialists, water technicians and those working in the biological research fields.
Current economic forecasts speculate that continuing education will continue to grow and might eventually surpass traditional for year degree programs.