At certain moments in anyone’s life, it is tempting to think of education as a thing of the past. Maybe you’ve graduated high school, college, or even a master’s or doctorate program. Maybe you’ve found yourself securely in the workforce. Whatever your situation, you can benefit from continuing education.
In every stage of life, a commitment to continuing education brings benefits you may not have considered or thought possible. Whether you are learning a new musical instrument, a second language, or new technical or vocational skills, revitalizing your skills and knowledge will benefit you throughout your life.
After all, the world is constantly changing and progressing — shouldn’t you?
Here, we’ll explore how continuing education can be utilized in every stage of life, from young adulthood, middle age, and even retirement.
Continuing Education in Young Adulthood — Beyond the Classroom
When you’re young, it can be difficult to think of education as anything but an obstacle, a stepping stone for future goals. However, a commitment to lifelong learning can have immense benefits through every stage of your life.
Creating the attitude of a lifelong learner in young adulthood gives you a step up in life, raising your prospects and improving your outcomes. Continuing education as a young adult — from adolescence into adulthood — means going beyond the classroom in various avenues of education.
Continue your education beyond the classroom through learning life skills, expanding your talents and hobbies, and participating in vocational training programs. In the process, you will transcend academic learning and pick up usable skills that will translate across every stage of your life.
1. Life Skills
Life skills are anything and everything that help you maintain a healthy, highly-functioning lifestyle. This can mean the daily living activities that have aided in your development since childhood or skills learned in adulthood, like the process of filing one’s taxes or investing for the future.
Many young adults exiting high school and even college are often astounded by the level of complexity in adult life. They find that little of that complexity is discussed and taught in the classroom. This is where a commitment to lifelong learning can be immediately beneficial in your day-to-day life, and it’s easier than you might think.
There are many options available for learning life skills. From signing up for a community class, enrolling in a course on a digital learning platform, to even watching a series of useful YouTube videos, you can learn a lot about life and how to navigate it.
Online courses that are not affiliated with traditional academia are gaining in popularity. This is a market expected to swell to a $350 billion industry by 2025, boosted by the increased importance of digital learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Platforms like Udemy, Lynda, or Skillshare serve users in thousands of fields to navigate life skills and progress their abilities. You can find anything from generalized soft skills to highly specific topics in the ranks of courses available online.
The availability of learning opportunities in an easily navigable digital marketplace makes continuing education a breeze. Why not give yourself a leg up in life by progressing your learning outside of the classroom?
2. Talents, Passions, and Hobbies
Learning is easier when the subject is something we are really passionate about. Often, we don’t even think of developing our talents, passions, and hobbies as an educational experience. However, everything from learning an instrument to building model cars has real-world applications that you can carry with you throughout your life.
Take music for example. Listening, playing, and experiencing music can have profound effects on the development of our brains. Studies have shown that when we accompany our lives with music, cognitive ability, neural processing, and even high school retention rates are improved.
Engaging our passions and hobbies in creative ways lend benefits that last a lifetime, growing our minds and bodies:
- Physical activities boost our health and well-being.
- Hobbies can reduce depression and improve mental health.
- Social opportunities through hobbies increase social and interpersonal well-being.
- Hobbies can stimulate our creativity.
- Creative and constructive activities allow for introspection and self-improvement.
However minimal you may think it is, your talent or hobby can provide a phenomenal avenue for continuing education and self-improvement. In turn, you’ll receive social, mental, and emotional benefits that can help you across a lifetime.
3. Vocational Programs
No matter what your education level or career aspirations, looking into vocational training can ensure you have a fallback and a way to securely make money and invest in your future.
Interested individuals can take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities rarely offered in a classroom while working side-by-side with industry professionals in a field that interests them. Because of their significant disparity in cost and time commitment compared to a traditional university degree, vocational programs are a way of expanding your exposure to real-world experience and helping you find a career and interests that truly suit you in an affordable capacity.
Additionally, vocational training can offer you an environment in which to meet new people with shared interests. Making friends as an adult isn’t always easy. Expanding your skillset with like-minded individuals is a great place to build a community.
Taking the time to participate in vocational training can be a fun, educational, and social experience that also provides you useful tools to begin a potential career in a field you are interested in. For any young adult expanding their skills through continuing education, vocational training offers paths to success that could last you a lifetime.
The Lifelong Benefits of a Commitment to Education in Middle-Age
Perhaps you are established in a career field or maybe even looking for a new one in your middle age. Continuing your education is paramount in any case. Offering opportunities for career advancement, social networking, and developing new technical skills, education in your middle age will give you the tools to thrive and grow.
1. Education for Working Individuals
Whether you are a boss or an employee, you can learn and help others learn through useful training programs and vocational opportunities for self-betterment. Continuing education makes for the greater potential within a workplace, with a reported 218% increase in average income per employee among companies that integrate employee training programs in the workplace.
Education has a real financial value that can help you or your employees advance and grow, bettering their prospects and hope for the future. With continued training in and out of the workplace, you can build a substantial nest egg for your retirement all while advancing your current or future career.
2. Social Learning on a Busy Schedule
A great way to continue your education even with a full-time job and a committed family schedule is through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These tools enable many people to receive education through a flexible online platform, and in a post-COVID world, they are all but a necessity in ensuring the continuing of education at all.
MOOCs offer a plethora of benefits for anyone in any stage of life. In middle age, the flexibility they present can be a lifesaver. With weekly lectures in short form — less-than-ten-minute videos and quizzes — and accompanying assignments, continuing education students are able to glean what they need in a way that is conducive to any schedule.
The best part of MOOCs is that they do not require a compromise in education quality. Top-notch universities like Harvard and MIT are even participating in these platforms, allowing students to find quality instruction for a variety of topics ranging from professional development to cultivating new skills.
For anyone looking to expand their abilities and prospects later in life, MOOCs are worth joining.
3. Learning New Tech
You may find it difficult on the job to keep up with all the new developments and inventions, especially if you work or hope to work in a field that utilizes a lot of technology. In any field, however, you won’t be able to escape a greater shift towards technology and digital platforms. This can be strenuous for many for whom new tech does not come easily.
To keep up on the tech your company is using — or to learn how to use new tech that can benefit you or your company — continue your education into your middle age and beyond.
In the next 10 years, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in nearly every workplace is expected to change a variety of roles. Understanding how this new tech is used and integrated can help ensure you maintain relevance in your field or build it in a new one.
Through continuous education, you can pick up skills and knowledge of new technology that will translate into a more secure and empowered present and future. In a world as rapidly changing as our own, maintaining a firm grasp of new innovations and their place in business processes is all but a necessity.
A Fulfilling Retirement through Learning
It’s now easier than ever to continue your education into your retirement. With programs across the country designed to assist older folks in their dedication to never stop learning and growing, you can find the perfect social and educational outlet for you.
In fact, more retirees than ever are returning to college through programs like the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. These programs are created to accommodate those on a fixed income. That means fees far below those of traditional college course tuitions. Retirees can learn and pick up new skills as it best suits them.
Whether you choose to learn through teaching, pick up a new hobby, or take community classes for a social outlet, continuing your education in retirement can be just the stimulation and entertainment you’re looking for.
1. Learning by Teaching
An amazing tool of the digital age is the ability to share one’s knowledge and create a community of reciprocal learning through online education platforms. These handy tools are relatively easy to use and can provide an additional income for educators looking for an outlet.
One of the best aspects of these online education platforms like Udemy or Lynda is that they do not require a specific set of qualifications. Regardless of the path, your life has taken, you likely have knowledge that others will find useful. Structuring that knowledge into a data-driven course can help others while also teaching you the valuable skills needed in setting up a digital course.
Introduce yourself to online learning through the tools provided by online learning platforms. You can even take courses designed to help you create your own. The process of learning how to teach will give you the means to grow your income while also building your skill set, no matter your age and experience.
2. Picking up New Hobbies
You are never too old to pick up a new hobby. Doing so will benefit you mentally, emotionally, and physically while offering new opportunities to meet people and grow. Additionally, consistent participation in stress-reducing or physical hobbies has been shown to boost the immune system and even prevent chronic illness.
Many retirement and senior centers offer options for seniors looking to pick up a new skill or trade. Additionally, you can venture online or explore opportunities in your greater community for the advancement of your passions and interests.
3. Taking Community Classes
Almost every state and city offer some varieties of community classes designed for and around senior needs. These classes can help you maintain an active, interested learning lifestyle that will benefit you in every aspect of your healthy life.
Since many organizers of these classes understand the challenges posed by living on a fixed income, free and cheap options exist to help you maintain a commitment to lifelong education. Whether you are painting, creating pottery, writing, exercising, or so much more, you will reap the benefits of a stimulated and social outlet on a budget.
Nearly every community offers courses that could be an option in continuing education that you can use throughout your retirement. Check out what is available near you or consider taking on a digital education experience to gain familiarity with the rapidly changing world. It’s never too late to pick up the skills and knowledge that you can use throughout the rest of your life.
The Benefits of Being a Lifelong Learner
From adolescence to retirement and beyond, learning helps invigorate and sustain our lives in healthy and fulfilling ways. Continued education can be utilized in every stage of a person’s life, providing them skills, opportunities, social networks, and increased well-being in every facet of life.
Continuing education can have benefits for every pillar of your health, including but not limited to:
There is never a time in which these aspects of life cease to be important. By committing to continuing education, you can live a longer and better life with more of what you love in it.
It is never too late to learn new skills, grow your talents, and become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
By: Sam Bowman
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