What do consistently successful people, heads of Fortune-500 companies, and those who seem to climb the corporate ladder with ease have in common? They never stop learning.
OK, maybe you won't pull down six figures or have a company jet on call, but adult learning programs can boost your prospects in a quick and affordable way.
Classes in The City
Joyce Lupack, intake counselor at the Adult School at City College of San Francisco, oversees a basic adult education class for those who want to brush up on reading, writing, and other basic skills. The program also offers a GED preparation class.
"Although many people get a high school diploma, they may need help with math and writing," she says. "The overall CCSF program is enormous."
"We have the credit program where students earn units toward a degree or certificate," explains Martha Lucey, CCSF's dean of marketing and public information. "The good news is that the courses are very inexpensive - $18 per unit."
These courses, available only to California residents, include English as a Second Language, accounting, computers, secretarial skills, word processing, construction, drafting, energy conservation, printing and welding. The duration of the classes range from six weeks to a full semester.
In addition, there is a noncredit, continuing education program for students who have a degree but want a short-term course to learn other specific skills or develop other interests. Fees vary with hours required in the classroom.
One example is the ServeSafe certification program that prepares food-service workers for employment in the industry or renews existing certificates. Students learn the principles of personal hygiene, characteristics of
food-borne illness, proper food handling techniques through the entire culinary operation, and ways to promote cleanliness and sanitary conditions in the workplace. Those who pass the exam receive a ServSafe certificate which satisfies health department requirements nationwide for employment in the food-service industry. The cost is $130.
Other programs include art, business, computers, finance, wine and food, language, personal development and much more.
"It's all about choices," Lucey believes. "This is especially important in our fast-paced world because a person's time is valuable and they may not want to invest a whole semester."
Los Rios Community College District and its four schools in the Sacramento area - American River College, Cosumnes River College, Sacramento City College and Folsom Lake Community College - offer another great place to sharpen your skills or take your first step down a new career path.
"We offer a variety of courses for those with or without bachelor's degrees," notes Susie Williams, assistant chancellor and district spokesperson. "In fact, 35 percent of the student population is over 30 and is returning to learn an entirely new field of study."
Course studies include advertising, computer programming, biotechnology, culinary arts, legal assisting, veterinary technology, retail management, and web page design. Some students enroll to land a promotion or get a job by upgrading their writing and presentation skills. Others may have a bachelor's degree, yet discover they are no longer employable in today's job market without retraining.
If students attend classes full-time, associate's degrees can be earned in two years, while certificates can be completed in just one semester. Classes are held evenings, weekends and online.
Sacramento City College has the distinction of offering two unique programs. "Our funeral service program is the only such course offered in the state," Williams reports. "And the railroad management program is one of only two schools in the US that offer classes in how to run a railroad. The other is in Kansas City."
Certificates in Stockton
At San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, community education classes are open entry and open exit.
"We have workshops and seminars that run the gamut from communication and management skills to computer training and job-hunting skills," notes Mary Anne Fry, community education coordinator. "The choices in other programs include notary-public certification and rental property management."
The college offers an innovative, noncredit certificate of achievement for professional development. Students take required training and leadership workshops with grammar and business writing as the core. Time management and business savvy seminars also are offered.
"The program is not just for those in the workforce, but also for jobseekers," Fry explains. "They use the certification to look for a job and enhance their resume and their own marketability."
Although all these seminars and workshops are fee-based, they are a bargain. The one-day Introduction to Computers is $29 and a four-day QuickBooks course is $67. All homework is optional.
"Attendees can come in and leave because the programs are one day rather than 18 weeks," Fry confirms. "They can learn bits and pieces and go on to look for a job. It also gets rid of their anxiety about taking a credit course. Most importantly, it's a great way to introduce older adults to our campus. There is no intimidation because there are no grades and no tests."
The college has a reentry program for people of any age who want to get back into the workforce or enter it for the first time.
Fry urges everyone to give one of the courses a try. "Whether adults become students here for the first time or return for more education, it's a wonderful, nonthreatening way to be introduced to lifelong learning."
Call for more information on community college courses or visit these websites to apply online:
ccsf.edu - City College of San Francisco; (415) 239-3000.
cvc1.org - Bay Area California Virtual Campus Center. The right side of the home page has links to all the community colleges throughout the Bay Area.
losrios.edu - Los Rios Community College District. Has links to all four campuses in the district: American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake Campus and Sacramento City College; (916) 568-3041.
San Joaquin County
communityed.deltacollege.edu - San Joaquin Delta College workshops and seminars; (209) 954-5047.
deltacollege.org - San Joaquin Delta College, 5151 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95207; (209) 954-5151.
sjcoe.org - San Joaquin County Office of Education; (209) 953-3475.
yccd.yosemite.cc.ca.us - Yosemite Community College District, 2201 Blue Gum Avenue, Modesto, CA 95358; (209) 575-6498.