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Continuing education, also called adult education, generally refers to traditional education for those beyond the “normal” college age students. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, continuing education is called “further education.“ It doesn’t include things such as studies for GED preparation, vocational training or literacy and English language skills. The very first “continuing education” program was offered in 1907 by The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Continuing education most often refers to those adults who already have a high school diploma and have never been to college, or have had some college education and wish to return to complete their degree. It can also refer to those who already have a college degree, but are returning for a masters or doctorate degree. Many times students are enrolled part-time due to work and/or home and children obligations. It can also mean enrollment in non-credit-granting classes, taken strictly for personal use or knowledge. Sometimes (in the United States) many non-credit courses are offered by community colleges. Anyone can take continuing education classes to enrich their professional career, or perhaps to embark on a new career, or purely for personal satisfaction. Studies can be done in a traditional college campus setting, or online-Internet courses, which is usually called “distance learning.” In fact, more and more people are taking advantage of online studies, because they can more easily fit these classes into their busy schedules at home.

Continuing education for professionals generally means taking a designated seminar or course required for their job. The individual is issued a certificate or continuing education units (CEU) as documentation of attending the seminar or course. Also, if you plan to pursue a high-level profession, such as college professor or psychologist, a master’s or doctoral degree is necessary (after first earning a four-year bachelor’s degree.) This type of continuing education, also called postgraduate education, is sometimes referred to as graduate school.


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