An adult school provides opportunities to earn a high school diploma for students who dropped out of school, holds classes for personal enjoyment, and makes basic education courses available to improve literacy and create more productive citizens. Adult education, often called continuing education, operates on the premise that society improves when educational opportunities apply to all citizens. Classes offered at an adult school also assist students who want to earn college credits toward a degree.
Courses are commonly held at night to accommodate students who work at full-time jobs during the day. Distance learning programs may be offered to permit study from home via the Internet. College credits earned online might be transferrable to a college campus or permit the student to earn a general education equivalent certificate.
Adult schools typically offer literacy classes and English as a second language courses. Students who lack basic skills in English, math, and science can get a basic education that may make them more productive in society. Immigrants can obtain language skills to help them assimilate into the country where they live and prepare for citizenship testing, which commonly opens up job opportunities that were previously unattainable.
Some adults who attend an adult school enroll in classes to help them succeed in the workplace. This is especially true in the area of rapidly changing technology that requires frequent training to stay current in technical skills. Students who attend an adult school for this purpose might seek employment in a new field or advance in their current careers.
Another function of an adult school is to provide opportunities for personal enrichment and enjoyment. Some adult education facilities offer classes designed for personal growth, such as crafts, photography, and education about child care. These courses may help adults reach their maximum potential by creating lifelong learning experiences.
The concept of adult education arose in the 1920s in the United States as remedial classes to increase the number of educated citizens. Before this era, education was basically limited to youth, with few opportunities for continuing education. Studies showed that educated adults developed critical thinking skills that allowed them to successfully manage their affairs, to the benefit of society overall. The concept of equal education for all people evolved from this premise.
In some regions, an adult school is subsidized with government funds to make education affordable and accessible. Affordable adult education may attract low-income earners who can acquire skills that lead to jobs with better wages. Proponents of adult learning believe a more informed society produces increased productivity, stronger economies, and more informed voters.