As the dog days of summer draw to a close, it’s time to turn our attention to the classroom. “Back to School” season is now in full swing, and students around the country have furiously begun preparing for the upcoming school year. But there are also a number of new and emerging avenues for personal and career development that people are taking advantage of.

Why? Because a growing number of adults are opting instead to pursue education later in life. In 2014 alone, more than 8 million students over the age of 25 were pursuing advanced education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics–and that number is expected to rise to 9.6 million by 2020.

The reasons for these numbers are as varied as the individuals they represent: some may have joined the military at a young age or decided to first save money or start a family, while others may have experienced life transitions like having kids or becoming caretakers of elderly loved ones. For others, pursuing education later in life may have allowed them to undertake passion projects at a younger age.

Finding the Right Learning Fit for Adult Ed

It is easier than ever to design the path of educational growth and development that works for the individual at any age or stage, thanks to an abundance of tools and resources that allow for increased convenience and flexibility.

A variety of programs and platforms exist for skill development, such as online learning and digital tools that focus on teaching new (or developing existing) professional skills. These offerings are also more accessible than ever before, and appeal to modern learners who are looking for new, convenient and cost-effective resources.

Today’s adult ed students also understand that education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition: they value a personalized productivity path. A number of resources are at their disposal, making it possible to craft the curriculum, learning style and schedule that best fit their lives. Such options provide flexibility, allowing for side gigs well as personal projects alongside a primary career, encouraging well-roundedness and emotional fulfillment.

(Next page: Adult ed learning programs and pathways popular right now)

What’s Out There

Learning platforms are available for those looking to hone specific skills, including everything from coding and IT engineering, to web design and entrepreneurship.

Webinars and online classes cater to an individual’s interests and passions and provide a convenient way to build or refresh skills that are relevant to any career. Historically, such continuing education resources were chiefly the domain of colleges, but increasingly both universities and businesses alike are recognizing the value and benefit to delivering more learner-centric opportunities.

Code Academy, for example, is an education company that provides data science and software programming training for a variety of skill levels and age groups.

CreativeLive, a web platform that offers more than 1,500 curated classes, enables adults to learn from experts in art, design, photography and video.

Online learning platforms, such as Amway Education, offer a variety of business skill building courses, such as public speaking, active listening and business etiquette, for entrepreneurs at any stage of their careers.

Linder Global Events offers event planning professionals help with executing on every aspect, while Nextpoint webinars are aimed at helping attorneys build stronger, more agile teams.

The American Chemical Society even offers webinars for chemists who are exploring specific industries or need to brush up on basic skills.

Adult learners value a personalized path to productivity and growth that enables them to take their education to the next level. The many tools at their disposal, from webinars to online classes and other resources, make it possible to craft specific goals and curriculum styles, fitting continuing education into already busy lives. This learning and development turns out more productive professionals and happier human beings, broadening the benefits to every corner of the communities these individuals touch.

About the Author:

Suzie Fiore is the director of education for Amway North America. In this role, Suzie oversees all activity related to instructional design, implementation, learning management solutions and continuous improvement of learning and education content and tools for Amway’s Independent Business Owners. With more than 20 years experience at the company, she began her tenure as a research scientist and packaging engineer, becoming the Group Leader for Home Care Product Development. Prior to joining Amway, Suzie held engineering and managing roles for Procter and Gamble and at Binney and Smith for Crayola Crayons.

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