What are Your Options for Enrolling in Continuing Education?

Well informed decisions are based on research and planning for making critical decisions regarding the best path for success in education.

There are decisions everyone must make when enrolling in a continuing education program. These decisions are based on options, so what are these options? The option of why enroll is already answered, because the decision has already been made to pursue further education for professional or personal reasons. The next options are the what, where, when, and how to continue your education.

Every adult who enrolls in continuing education must make choices, which are influenced by life’s commitments. There are three things which make selecting the best path difficult and these are work, personal life, and school itself. There is no one correct answer from which to choose, because everyone’s situation is different. The following provides a guide for sorting out the what, where, when, and how.

Types of Schools: What and Where is the Best Choice

What is the best type of school to enroll in is based on the three major influences – work, personal life, and the school. The following is an overview of each type.

Four-Year Schools

These are schools which are either public or private and non-profit or for-profit. These factors have a major influence on federal and private financial aid requirements. These schools offer certifications and a bachelor’s degree, along with graduate degrees.

Public schools are typically non-profit and less expensive than private colleges or universities. Private schools typically offer more flexibility, personal attention, and smaller classes. This is often the opposite for their public counterparts, which typically have rigid requirements, larger classes, and you must be your own advocate.

For-profit colleges and universities typically cost more than non-profit colleges and universities. Some have also come under fire for misleading potential adult students about probable future earnings and causing students to take out more loans than they need. Like private four-year schools they are typically more flexible than their public counterparts.

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Two-Year Schools

These two-year schools are either public or private and non-profit or for-profit. These schools offer options for earning an associate’s degree and a certification or license for specific careers.

Public schools are typically non-profit and less expensive than private two-year colleges, trade schools, or vocational schools. As with four-year colleges and universities, the options must be weighed regarding financial aid packages, personal attention, class sizes, and flexibility. This also applies to for-profit two year schools.

Selecting what type of school to attend has implications on where to attend. This factor is driven in large part by the colleges, universities, and schools which are the most convenient for meeting your professional and personal education goals. Before making a final decision of where to attend school, there are other options such as when and how which must be considered.

Attending School: When and How

After deciding what type of school best meets your situation and requirements, the next step is making a choice on when and how you will be attending school. As with other options – work, personal life, and the school itself are the deciding factors.

There are at least four options available for attending school and support almost any situation. The alternatives are enrolling full-time, part-time, online, physical attendance, or a combination of these choices.

Full-Time or Part-Time

For many adults full-time enrollment is rarely an option; however, this is a viable option for those who are in the right situation. This could be due to a part-time job with few family commitments or employed in a full-time job where the employer both supports and encourages enrollment in continuing education programs.

The natural advantage of full-time over part-time enrollment is the ability to earn a degree, certificate, or license in less time. Nevertheless, do not let this discourage you from enrolling in a continuing education program. Reaching your professional or personal goals are the important factors to consider.

Online Learning

Almost every college, university, or school offers online courses through their distance education programs. Many find enrollment in these online courses favorable for their specific situations, making continuing education possible. Completing an entire program, or selected courses through online learning, provides flexibility for those with work schedules or family commitments which hinder physical class attendance.

As opposed to physical attendance, learning online requires a specific set of technology skills and the self-determination to succeed. You must have the ability to learn in isolation from other students and not distracted by competing pressures.

So what are your options for enrolling in continuing education? Many! After deciding to continue your education the what, when, where, and how factors drive the decision making process. To make well informed decisions, research and planning are critical. To successfully complete your professional or personal education goals, dedication and perseverance are essential.

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