Tuesday’s editorial gives a well-deserved pat on the back to our area’s adult education offerings:
Discussions of our area’s schools often grace these pages, as we chronicle the successes and failures of our local educational system, but it should be remembered that learning does not end at 18 or 21. As thousands of children settle into school this fall, thousands of adults will also be finding their desks in new classrooms, discovering new friends and introducing themselves to fresh teachers.
Grand Strand adults in need or want of more schooling are lucky enough to have plenty of low-cost choices, whether the goal is a better career or a better quality of life. Horry County Schools, Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Coastal Carolina University all offer wonderful programs geared toward nontraditional students.
In general, HGTC classes are geared more toward career goals, with classes offered in medical, culinary and business fields, among many others. Especially in the current job market, any extra education can be an important way to stand out among many other resumes, and local job seekers should count themselves fortunate to have such a resource available. Horry County Schools also helps job seekers, particularly with classes that lead to a GED.
More than 600,000 S.C. adults lack a high school credential, a state that has very real effects on income and quality of life. A 2009 Census Bureau survey found that South Carolina residents without a high school education can expect to make about $9,000 less per year than a worker with a high school diploma and $23,000 a year less than a worker with a bachelor’s degree. Making the effort now can pay large dividends later.
At CCU, the focus is much more on leisure education, with classes in subjects such as jewelry making or local history. Linda Ketron, director of Coastal’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, summed it up:
“This is sort of the other side of education. It’s education as entertainment. … There are a lot of skills that are among the classes that we offer that could be applied to a career, but the intent behind Bernard Osher’s creation of the 122 strong OLLIs around the country – there’s at least one in every state, and most states have two or three – the intent is for people past 50 to have the opportunity to explore the things they couldn’t while they were on their career path.”
Ketron has watched as the program has grown steadily since it began in 2007. It taught 2,200 students last year, and Ketron estimated that about 60 percent to 70 percent were retirees. For many new residents who’ve relocated to the area, the classes serve not just as a learning experience, but as a place to meet friends and socialize. But it’s not just retirees taking advantage of the classes. While the program’s oldest student is 100 years old, the youngest is 14.
But learning offers its own rewards, beyond any social or monetary benefits. It exercises one’s mind, keeping it nimble and in working shape. People who learn feel they’re alive and growing, not merely existing. Mastering a new skill or concept offers a sense of pride and accomplishment that’s nearly impossible to replicate. As Ketron said, “In the end, what keeps you vital and keeps you firing on all pistons, is learning.”
Classes start soon. Is your mind ready for a workout this fall?
To sign up
HGTC continuing education
www.hgtc.edu/ce or 843-477-2072
CCU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
www.coastal.edu/olli or 843-234-3422
Horry County Schools Adult Education
www.edtheturtle.com or 843-839-5400