Back to School for Adults



BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN

Whether you have kids or just went to Target and saw the rush on notebooks and binders, the feeling is in the air. Just like that the summer is almost gone, and you’re gearing up for back to school. Fall is the perfect time to dust the sand off your pants and start thinking about learning: yours.

Adults learn differently than kids – that should be no surprise, but do you know how you personally learn? As a general go-to, adults need to be involved in planning their instruction and evaluating their results. Kids learn because they are supposed to, and adults learn because they see the relevance of learning – whether that is a promotion you’re working towards or a hobby you want to polish, we have to choose to learn because we won’t get hit with a truancy report.

That’s the most important part: we have to choose to learn and tie it to that higher purpose, whatever it is. Before you run out to sign up for the first continuing education class at your local college, take a moment to think about what you want to learn, and why. Maybe it’s sign language because you’ve always wanted to, or how to care for houseplants better, or how to code a website.

After you’ve got in mind what you want to learn, it’s time to think about how. Here are three low-cost ways to tap into that back to school feeling:

Online Classes

Take a quick moment to Google what you want to learn, and the phrase “online classes.” Chances are there will be a plethora of videos you can learn from the comfort of your own couch and house. How do you know which class is best, and what if this is something really new for you? Repeat after me: try before you buy. There are so many creators on YouTube making great videos for learning, and the best part? If you don’t like one, you can easily click to another. Find someone that fits your learning style and see what you can get for free, first.

After you know it’s something you want to invest in, look into online class platforms. Sites like Lynda, Skillshare, and Teachable offer fairly low-cost options to learn skills from watercolor to public speaking to coding.

IRL [In Real Life]Classes and Programs

Classes are becoming a big part of many businesses’ revenue streams. A few months ago, I took a plant class at my favorite plant shop, a kombucha class at a local brewery and a mushroom growing class where I buy my local produce. Usually these classes don’t require experience and are priced fairly well – and generally, you get something from the class, whether that is a discount or takeaway (like a mushroom cube!)

If you’re looking for a more specialized skill or hobby, be sure to check out the local colleges and even traditional K-12 schools. Adult continuing education is usually offered in the evenings or on weekends, and in short increments (not 12-week classes) for the working – and busy – adult.

Meetups

Interpersonal learning means you learn well with other people. You’re probably pretty social, sensitive to motivations, feelings, and moods. So why not learn with a group of people that are interested in learning the same thing? Check out local meetups and groups, even book clubs on the subject. You’re essentially learning from other folks, and with them – maybe they have a great book recommendation or you’ll find that friend that will come with you to that mushroom class or cooking workshop.

Since this avenue is group driven, it only works when something exists. And if it doesn’t? Start one yourself! Post on your social media and get a group together at a public place. If one person shows up the first time, great: that’s one more person that you know and can learn with.

As mentioned earlier, adults need to opt into learning. If they don’t want to learn, they won’t – so it’s up to you to keep it up.

 


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