Going back into learning can be daunting, especially if it’s been a long time since the last visit to the classroom or the examination hall. But it doesn’t have to be scary – teaching styles for adults are very different to those for children, and not all courses involve exams, or even classrooms (see ‘Teaching Yourself Using Books and CDs’).
Helping With a Career
Going back into learning can be a way of improving career prospects in an existing job, or starting a new career, perhaps after redundancy or just for people looking to make a fresh start. There are courses covering every career choice from A for administration to Z for zoology. Some employers will provide their own training courses in work time, or will allow employees time off for study, sometimes even paying for the courses. Some career-related courses can be studied online at the student’s own pace, allowing them to fit the study around work and family commitments.
Studies don’t have to be careers-based, technical or academic – adult education courses can also include life skills, such as basic literacy and numeracy. In 2009, around one in five children left primary school not able to read and write properly, and poor reading, writing and number skills can cause many problems in everyday life, from filling in forms to helping children with homework. It’s never too late to learn to read and write, and do basic maths.
Life skills can also include basic computing skills, which are becoming increasingly important in all parts of life.
Going back into learning can be a way to solve practical problems – for example learning how to fix a car, decorate a room or plumb in a washing machine. Courses like these are difficult to learn at home, but many local colleges will run classes at all levels, from basic to advanced. Why pay for someone else to do it if you can do it yourself!
Catching Up With Missed Education
Some people miss out on education as children or young adults because they have to care for children, parents or siblings, or through ill health or lack of opportunity. Going back into learning as an adult gives them the chance to catch up on missed education, giving them opportunities to gain formal qualifications and move into new careers. Many colleges provide childcare, helping people with young children to access education.
Meeting New People
Taking a new course can be a good way to meet people, especially when moving to a new area, post-retirement, or after a relationship break-up. It could be an opportunity to try something completely new, such as computer skills for the computer-phobic, or to refresh old skills, such as languages or arts and crafts.
Just For Fun
Many people go back into learning just for fun – perhaps learning how to cook Indian food, or paint with watercolours, or speak Spanish for a forthcoming holiday. These kinds of courses will tend to be more relaxed and often don’t lead to formal qualifications.