June 23, 2018
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Return to classes a smart choice, wise investment

By Russ Van Arsdale Executive director Northeast Contact, Special to the BDN

A number of Maine people are headed back to the classroom. Some are seeking personal enrichment, while others are looking to gain skills that will make them more attractive to employers in a tough job market.

Whatever the reason, adding to a person’s education is always a wise investment. Even if it’s just a way to take the edge off our famous cabin fever, taking a class or two pays dividends beyond the skills or knowledge the student gains in the process.

Getting back into the classroom among people with similar interests can help people make new friends. It might also offer some networking opportunities leading to job or volunteer possibilities, both supplying valuable experience.

For people who need help learning to read, Literacy Volunteers is a great resource. Volunteer tutors at 14 sites statewide donate more than $1 million worth of tutoring services in helping more than 1,100 Maine people learn to read or to improve their literacy skills.

People seeking a high school diploma or its equivalent have a choice. The Adult High School Diploma program is regulated by the state, but administered by local school districts. The Tests of General Educational Development, or GED, program offers pre-testing, preparation and testing programs at 84 sites statewide. A GED certificate has the full legal weight of a diploma.

Adult education covers a wide range of topics with courses offered around the state. Classes are getting under way right about now at many high schools. Courses may include one or more you’ve wanted to take for some time.

Certain adult ed offerings may be of special interest to people thinking of taking college classes for the first time or going back to earn a degree. The College Access For Everyone, or CAFE, program at Bangor High School offers counseling on careers, college selection and the application process. There are low-cost courses to prepare and help in applying for financial aid.

For people who have never set foot on a college campus, CAFE includes a chance to take some courses at University College of Bangor, Eastern Maine Community College and Beal College. Greg Leavitt, who coordinates the program, says putting returning students at ease is important. “The whole goal is to get people com-fortable with the setting so they’ll have a good experience,” he says.

The Penquis Higher Education Center serves Piscataquis and Penobscot counties, offering interactive television, or ITV, online courses, and onsite classes in Greenville, Jackman, Guilford, Hermon and Newport. Those courses can lead to certificates and associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

There are also a number of general interest classes that can help shake the winter doldrums and prepare for warmer weather. Cooperative Extension offers courses on food preservation and safety; gardening, composting and tractor safety; and stewardship of watersheds and shorelines, to name a few.

Whatever your interests or needs, more education is likely to pay dividends in the long run. Whether for personal growth or a more stable financial future, consider investing in mind power.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit consumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for more information, write: Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, or e-mail contacexdir@live.com.

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