The Value of Lifelong LearningTom McGuire | Program Director, UC Berkeley Extension
When you decide it’s time to learn a new subject, change career direction, or brush up on outdated skills, your choice of a continuing education provider may not matter as much as your passion for pursuing your career aspirations and professional goals.
Think about it – you are doing much more than simply signing up for a course or certificate program. You are joining a community of life-long learners and like-minded individuals who share a common vision and ardent desire to continually learn and apply new concepts and ideas. You are embracing a fraternity of fellow students impassioned in their quest for success by furthering their education and enhancing professional advancement opportunities. When you enroll in a program, whether it is to learn the latest trends in HR or marketing, or to better understand and apply theories governing what makes effective leaders and managers, or how to become the best paralegal in demand, or figure out ways to improve your negotiating acumen and communication and presentation aptitude, or need to acquire critical skills and know-how in starting up a successful business venture, you are assuming the mantle of excellence and achievement that is the hallmark of a high caliber of student – the lifelong learner.
In a continuing education program, your objective is to engage your mind in the pursuit of practical knowledge. Taught by the best and the brightest in the industry, courses are underpinned with solid academic theory and are structured to enable you to immediately apply your new-found knowledge and utilize your enhanced skills to increase efficiency or gain a competitive edge in your company. Your instructors are there to help you succeed and be your best. They bring into the classroom challenges, issues, problems and scenarios they face daily in their jobs. Expect them to be – not talking heads – but keen facilitators and experts at knowledge transfer – by any standards, a unique and eclectic breed able to impart with wisdom, authority and humor all the best practices, tips, strategies, techniques, and trade secrets for career success. Legendary management guru Peter Drucker put it this way, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” Extensions, Continuing Ed, Lifelong Learning Programs – call it what you will, but this is what we do: teach people how to learn.
You will meet a high caliber of student who values knowledge and education, not just for the sake of gaining career-enhancing skills, but for the rewarding challenges that learning, in and of itself, offers for critical and analytical thinking, neural network expansion, and personal growth and enrichment. Along the way, you will discover new friends, and new networking opportunities in the student and instructor community of shared values, interests and career goals.
Many graduates of continuing education programs have called their experience “life-changing,” “rewarding,” and “fulfilling.” But most of all, I think what you will find in the continuing ed classroom is that acquiring new knowledge and becoming proficient in new skills is exhilarating. Learning is fun! Learning keeps you young! Even the great Michelangelo acknowledged his unrealized potential when he said, “I am still learning.”
So what are you waiting for?
Author Perspective: Administrator