It’s almost summer, the local schools are ready to close up shop, and they have signs out encouraging parents to sign up their kindergarteners, transfer students, and other new enrollees now for the fall semester. You may have kids yourself who will be starting school in the fall, whether “school” for them means pre-school, college, or somewhere in between.
Now what about you? Have you thought of going back to school yourself? You may need to register now to get into the fall semester, though you don’t have to wait till then to return to the classroom. There are plenty of academic opportunities over the summer, not all of which you are too late to enroll for.
Improved employment opportunities are not the only reason for furthering your knowledge, and in fact some of what I’m about to suggest won’t help your employment or income potential one whit. Meeting your next husband—or at least someone nice to enjoy for a while—isn’t the only reason, either, but you never know who your classmates are going to be.
What are some of the reasons for taking anything from one class to a full courseload? (We’ll discuss the potential venues—where to go to seek out classes—in a minute. Let’s get to the reasons, first.)
1 – To increase your “hirability” or the income level you can command.
2 – To stimulate your mind and keep yourself thinking and learning and brain-active.
3 – To learn new things, just because they’re interesting, or because they’re helpful to you in aspects of your life that have nothing to do with your field of work. (For examples of what I’m talking about, think of self-defense classes, classes on cooking to fit a budget, or a course that will teach you some craft you’d like to learn.)
4 – To give yourself an opportunity to get out and meet new people…and not just other singles, though of course, that, too.
5 – To make yourself a more interesting person.
6 – To give yourself a reason to get out of the house, other than hitting singles bars or taking the kids to a movie.
Just what sort of classes are we talking about, and where are you going to find them?
• If there’s a college or university near where you live, you can think about going back to school and studying in earnest. Get that degree you never completed when you dropped out in your junior year, or get a different degree (say, a B.S. instead of the B.A. that hasn’t been particularly useful to you) or a more advanced degree (masters or doctorate). Or simply take individual courses that will increase your earning potential, even if they don’t lead to a degree.
• Many colleges and universities also offer courses that are intended to make you better-rounded, more knowledgeable, or possessed of better life skills. These courses may or may not help your income potential, may not be related to your field of work at all, or may be related only tangentially (for example, a course in public speaking, which could help you if your work requires that you sometimes address a group). There are classes in understanding politics better, classes in foreign languages, and classes in some fairly esoteric subjects. Colleges will usually also allow you to “audit” any of their regular degree-program courses that are not overly full of students already. Auditing involves studying without credit—you attend for the knowledge you can obtain, but the class doesn’t count toward any degree.
• Many communities, including the one I live in, offer evening courses for adults in their public schools. The subjects usually vary according to the people teaching the courses, and may run the gamut from wine-tasting to ballroom dancing, from conversational French to how to start a business, from parenting skills to defensive driving, from creative writing to working with stained glass. Of note: The local schools in my area have not yet even published their fall course offerings, and it is not too late—in fact, it is still too early—to register for the fall semester.
• Many towns and cities, again including the one I live in, also offer courses through their Leisure Services Department, Recreation Department, or some similarly named governmental entity. These are typically less expensive, though the spectrum of courses offered is usually fairly narrow.
• Some big cities have privately owned organizations (the Learning Annex is an example) that put together instructors and students. The instructors are generally responsible for making their own arrangements for a meeting place for the class, which may be anything from a classroom in a private school to a store with ample floor space to the living room of the instructor.
• Many public libraries offer classes, frequently on a literature-related topic (writing, book-binding, understanding the classics) but sometimes on topics far afield. Of note: These classes are likely to start in any given month, not concurrent with the local school semesters.
• Churches and synagogues sometimes offer classes, which are usually open to the public. Naturally they hope that persons who attend will become intrigued with the church or synagogue itself, but the subjects are not necessarily religion-oriented, and it is rare that any proselytizing takes place. These are more likely to be one-shot classes or four-week classes than to run an entire semester.
• Such organizations as the YMCA, JCC, and others that serve the community offer everything from swimming or fitness lessons to parenting classes. (If you’re finding the kids to be more than a handful for you, consider taking a parenting class—some organizations even gear their classes specifically to solo parents.) Best of all, some of these organizations offer babysitting, too. Bring the kids along and, for a nominal fee, the kids can work on crafts, enjoy gymnastics, or simply enjoy supervised play while you learn…without your having to worry that your babysitter will cancel and leave you unable to attend class.
So what do you say—are you ready to go back to school? Depending on the venue and on the individual course, the classes may be offered during the daytime, in the evenings, or on weekends. Find a course that’s timed conveniently for you, that interests you, and that is within your price range.
You might learn something new and useful, or at least new and interesting. You might make new friends. You might even meet a great new guy there. Now is the time to enroll in most fall semesters. Start checking around for course offerings now.