Saturday, August 1, 2009

2nd article - Where to find what is available

Your future starts today!

The house phone is ringing, your cell phone signals an incoming text message, the timer on the stove has two more minutes before time to remove the cupcakes that need to be iced and delivered tomorrow to the school for a party, laundry is piling up and you have no idea what’s for supper. How on earth is there time for retraining or enhancing work skills?

Do not despair! There are several avenues for identifying available courses and finding time for working to improve your future.

A couple of simple questions will lead you toward the right selections. Do you work full-time from 8-5? If so, day classes may not fit in your schedule. However, if your employer has an education benefit, check to see if time off during the day to attend one or more classes is an option. If you cannot get off during the day, your next choices are for evening/weekend courses or online courses.

Evening or weekend courses are exactly as they sound. The difference between a day and evening course is instead of attending three 1-hour classes throughout the week, you attend one 3-hour session and cover the same amount of material. It can be brutal if you are not prepared, and missing one evening class is like missing an entire week!

If having the flexibility to work any time you have available (even the middle of the night) seems like your best choice, online courses might be for you. Online courses are delivered via the Internet. Generally, these are not online correspondence courses and students are expected to log-in to the online classroom every day and complete assignments. In a face-to-face course there are live discussions between students and instructor; for an online course there are discussions but they are delivered as a discussion forum. A discussion forum is a place to type your response to a question or group of questions, read what other people have typed and posted and then reply to those postings. It is very similar to in-class discussions except it is happening through written comments rather than verbal comments. Usually, there are also electronic assignments and tests or quizzes. Sometimes, the tests are proctored which means you must go to a testing center to take the test. Online courses require the same or more work and time as day or evening courses.

Where do you look to find available courses? First, check with your local community colleges and/or vocational schools. These will be the least expensive choices. Most of the courses from community colleges transfer easily to 4-year universities. It is always a good idea before you enroll to check with the university if you plan to transfer hours to make sure they will accept them.

In the Cunningham area, check out Pratt Community College at and Hutchinson Community College at for day, evening, weekend and online schedules.

Next week: making choices about retraining - the good, the bad and the ugly.

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