adult learning illustration
We parents are busy–between jobs, kids, home and our partners, there is precious time for “extras” like hobbies or education. But learning something new and continuing to expand your horizons is so important that finding the time should be a priority. If you’re ready for the challenge, you might decide to learn a new skill by taking individual courses or seminars, or even pursue a degree in a certain field. Continued learning isn’t just good for your brain and soul, it’s a great example for your children. Seeing mom or dad try a new skill or complete a degree sets an example for children about what is possible and about how vital it is to stay involved and active.
If you do choose to go back to school, you’ll be in good company. According to U.S. News and World Report, the number of adult college students has increased nearly 20% in the last decade. In addition, The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 90 million adults partake in some type of education each year, including training and basic education offered outside traditional higher education.
Luckily we Neapolitans have a variety of choices open for adult learning. Parents can find everything from an adult education pottery class that meets once a week to all the coursework needed to obtain a PhD. The sky is the limit!
Undergraduate or graduate
Tackling an advanced degree while raising children isn’t easy, but it IS doable. Naples mother Kimberly Stalcup started work on her masters degree in 2009 while six months pregnant. She is now a University of Florida doctoral student working online throughout the semester and traveling to Gainesville three times per term.
“The most difficult thing with this educational experience is finding a balance between school, work, and the most important job of being a mom and wife,” Kimberly says. “Each new semester, I must get into a new groove with new courses and my children’s sports schedules. I tend to work late hours after everyone is asleep. The hardest part is more than just balance–it is avoiding falling asleep on my keyboard. For the record, I have done that numerous times! Somehow, though, I get it done!” A huge motivator for Kimberly is showing her children that education is important and goals can be accomplished.
If you’re ready for the commitment a college education requires, there are local options available. Edison College is the most cost effective, offering 10 bachelor degrees and numerous associate degrees and professional certifications. Classes are offered both at the Naples campus and online. Ave Maria University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Hodges University also offer a variety of degree programs for both undergrads and grad students locally. The University of Florida and Florida State University both offer online options for undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Looking for a new hobby?
If a new hobby is on the agenda, check out one of the adult education classes offered by Collier County Adult & Community Education or The Renaissance Academy. Both offer dozens of classes in a variety of course topics including art, music, language, writing workshops and many more. The courses are inexpensive, convenient and a great way to make new friends. The quality of teaching is pretty amazing—a testament to the accomplished retired population of the Naples area.
According to Robin Murchison, Community Education Coordinator, “Our classes offer parents the opportunity to take a break and spend a couple hours a week pursuing their own interests. It’s two hours a week where you can learn something new and also meet other people in the community who share your passion. Come with a friend and enjoy a different kind of night out.”
If it’s an art class you’re looking for, check out von Liebig Center or the Art League of Bonita Springs. In addition, the Naples Philharmonic Lifelong Learning program offers 150 programs in music, dance, art, writing, theater and design.
So what will it be? A new class, a new skill, a new degree? Jim Henson of Muppet fame said, “[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” Why not be a learner?
ADULT LEARNING RESOURCES:
Ave Maria University 5050 Avenue Maria Blvd., Ave Maria (239) 280-2500 www.avemaria.edu
CCPS Adult & Community Education 5600 Cougar Drive, Naples, (239) 377-1234, Collieradulted.com
Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs 26100 Old 41 Rd., Bonita Springs, (239) 495-8989, www.artcenterbonita.org
Edison College 7007 Lely Cultural Pkway., Naples, (239) 732-3701, www.edison.edu/collier
Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Boulevard, Fort Myers, (239) 590-1000, www.fgcu.edu
Hodges University, 2655 Northbrooke Drive, Naples, (239) 513-1122, www.hodges.edu
Naples Philharmonic Lifelong Learning, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples, (239) 597-1111, www.thephil.org
Renaissance Academy, 1010 5th Avenue South Naples, (239) 434-4737, www.fgcu.edu/racademy
The von Liebig Art Center, 585 Park Street, Naples, (239) 262-6517, www.naplesart.org