Albert Einstein said that intellectual growth should start at birth and cease only at death. Community colleges share this vision and lifelong learning is part of our core mission. Community colleges offer a broad range of topics through Community Education Departments to meet any professional or personal interest, at every stage of life.
If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in a new passion such as photography, explore the world beyond your neighborhood, or brush up on a skill or tool that might enhance your professional skills, the Community Education Department at Waubonsee Community College exists to nourish these curiosities and passions. Last year, our Community Education courses, programs and events reached nearly 7,000 registrations.
The noncredit programs offered through this department include personal enrichment courses, trips and tours, special events, youth programs, community theater and Unique Local Experiences, which are programs designed to connect students with local community experts who teach everything from how to make a better cup of coffee to how to knit. They reflect what makes our communities special and they connect residents with one another. With so many broad and diverse offerings, it’s likely that our Community Education Department will touch nearly every family in our district at some point, and that’s our goal. It’s one of the many ways that, as a community college, we seek to improve the quality of life of those who live in our cities and towns.
Community Education personal enrichment courses average about 250 each year. In addition, the department offers an average of 30 special events, nearly 50 Unique Local Experiences, 40 summer youth camps, up to 50 trips and tours and approximately 40 fitness and wellness courses. Our Lifelong Learning Institute – which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – offers about 100 courses each year.
Since public two-year institutions, now known as community colleges, were founded in America more than 100 years ago, they have become places that welcome all who desire to learn and grow regardless of age, income or academic experience. These community-based institutions of higher education exist to provide access to learning for everyone in a community, through all of life’s transitions. That is why the role of Community Education in this overall mission is such a key part of the strategy.
In a world where learning is available via a quick Google search or a YouTube tutorial, there’s still great value in actually experiencing hands-on learning in a community setting, in connecting with our neighbors, and networking with and supporting our local businesses. These are the people and places that give our communities a sense of place, and supporting that is important. Community colleges bring communities together by building lifetime connections and supporting knowledge growth.