Community education generally provides classes and other learning opportunities for people of all ages and ability levels. It is meant to be a source of lifelong learning for everyone in a community, regardless of age, gender, culture or educational level. Community education often encompass a wide range of programs, which may include after-school programs for school children, basic education classes for adults and non-traditional enrichment classes for the entire community. To help reach the widest audience possible, many of these classes are often offered at low or no cost, or have grants available to help pay for fees.
Due to the fact that community education is generally intended to support lifelong learning, activities offered often include those for people in all life stages. For example, a program may offer after-school driver’s education classes for teens, parenting classes for young and middle-aged adults, and gentle exercise classes targeted at older adults. In addition to age-oriented classes, many community education programs also offer classes that are open to everyone in the community. These types of classes are often called enrichment classes and cover a variety of subjects including cooking, photography, foreign languages, vehicle repair and exercise.
In addition to classes geared toward life stages and personal interest, community education programs also can offer basic adult education classes. These often target community members who did not complete a traditional high school education. They may include, for example, classes on individual subjects such as English, math or reading, as well classes designed to help students prepare for the general education development (GED) test, also known as a high school equivalency test.
To build on basic education, career development classes are also often offered. These may include workshops to help job seekers develop resumes or improve certain skills, such as general computer and Internet use. They may also include more advanced training opportunities, such as classes to learn about starting a small business or those designed to help prepare people to obtain certification in fields such as medical transcription and massage therapy.
While many community education program offerings take the form of familiar classroom-based learning, some programs offer non-traditional educational activities as well. The most basic of these offerings may include educational tours of local museums and historical sites. More advanced offerings may include trips to foreign countries designed to foster intense language and cultural learning.
Since community education is generally designed to serve all members of the community, cost is often a significant concern. Basic education classes, including adult basic reading and GED preparation, are often offered free of charge. Career training courses often have low to moderate fees, which may be subsidized through grants and other special funding. Enrichment classes also generally require participants to pay some fees, with non-traditional learning activities such as travel to foreign countries often costing the most.