Mount St. Mary’s University launched its new Lifelong Learning Center this month to provide personal and professional development courses for people of almost all ages.
The idea has been in the works for about a year and a half, said Jennifer Staiger, vice provost of Mount’s Division of Continuing Studies.
In addition to overseeing the new center — which opened two weeks ago — Staiger runs Mount’s graduate school and its Accelerated and Adult Education Center, which offers bachelor’s degree programs aimed at working adults.
The Lifelong Learning Center, however, fills a different niche, Staiger said. Courses do not lead to credits or degrees, and there are fewer barriers to entry. Prospective students simply register online and then show up in class.
“They don’t have to become a student of Mount to do that. They don’t have to apply,” she said. “It will be like buying a book on Amazon. But instead, they select a class to purchase.
The center will offer a wide range of programs, Staiger said, including one-day workshops, five-week courses and 12-week courses. Some can lead to professional certifications, she added.
It was launched with eight classes. Staiger said the goal was to add more.
Classes will be divided into distinct categories, Staiger said, with some catering to an individual’s personal interests or goals and others focused on professional development.
Current offerings on the center’s website range from an Oktoberfest-themed course on the history and science of beer to a course on gender in the workplace. There are also yoga classes, a “coaching bootcamp” and a personal finance course.
Additionally, Staiger said, the center will eventually offer custom workshops or classes for companies that request them.
The center opens as the number of “traditional students” — 18-22-year-olds — declines and the number of older adults who want to take college-level courses increases, Staiger said.
“Like most colleges, we looked for ways to create educational opportunities for students of all ages,” she said. “We have a lot more students who don’t go straight to college. We have many more organizations and businesses that no longer require college degrees. … But these people still need to be trained. There is still a need for workforce development.
Staiger said she hopes the new center will serve high school students through people in their 70s and 80s. Classes will meet either online or at the Mount’s Frederick campus on Spectrum Drive.
Christina Green, who teaches the center’s current classes on gender in business and yoga, said she hopes the new initiative will be a boon to Frederick’s workforce.
“We want to build partnerships throughout the community,” Green said. “And we see that we have skills and services that professionals in our community could benefit from.”
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