Boston Guide to Adult Education

Free time should fun. It should be something to look forward to, but for many of us the reliable monotony of television, occasional visit to the gym, or responding to e-mail are the only things listed on the free time agenda. While these activities can be enjoyable, they manifest a bland state of repetition.

But there is a way to combat the mundane. The only question is, what do you want to do? Think of a skill, a hobby, or a talent you wish you had. Have you ever wondered how to pick out a wine by characteristics other than the price tag? Would learning a new software program get you ahead at work? Do you watch MTV and fantasize about moving your hips like a Sir Mix-A-Lot booty queen? If you can think of an activity or skill you want to learn, chances are an organization right here in Boston has a class just waiting for you.

Taking a class is an easy way to spice up and personalize the daily routine. Heather, 26, comments, “I’ve taken a few classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education including Introductory Wine Tasting, Beginning Italian, and Mediterranean Cuisine. I took these classes because I wanted a relatively inexpensive and fun way to explore my interests and learn new skills.”

Rochelle Keesler has been a French instructor at the BCAE since 2001, teaching some students their first word of French and honing conversational skills for others. “The motivation of the students is incredible,” she says. “Without the pressure of grades, they enjoy working and seeing the progress they make with the language.” But students get more than just a French class. Rochelle remarks, “By the end of a typical 8 week session, many groups of students bond and form lasting friendships.”

And this is exactly what Nikki, 24, found at the Cambridge Center of Adult Education. “I wanted to take a kick boxing class to get into shape, but I didn’t want to pay a lot of money to join the gym. It turned out to be an awesome class and I became great friends with another girl taking it. That was almost a year ago and we still hang out.”

There are literally thousands of classes offered in the Boston area and they’re your ticket to life beyond the ordinary. Here is a list of key players, and check out their websites for a complete course guide:

Boston Center for Adult Education
617-267-4430
5 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
http://www.bcae.org/

BCAE is the oldest non-profit adult education center in New England, offering over 500 courses. An intriguing compilation of unique classes, visit the online course guide with an open mind and willingness to be bold.

Brookline Adult and Community Education
(617) 730-2700
Room 101, Brookline High School
115 Greenough St., Brookline
http://www.brooklineadulted.org/

This Brookline facility is the largest public program in the state, with almost 1800 courses to choose from. From music to computers to health and fitness and then some, make sure you have plenty of time to review this course guide. Classes are often quite specific, so it’s great if already you know what you’re looking for.

Brookline Community Center for the Arts
617-738-2800
14 Green Street
Brookline, MA 02446
http://bccaonline.com /

BCCA specializes in arts education, performance, and teacher training, welcoming students of all ages. An extensive collection of dance classes are offered, including hip hop, world dance, and partner dance. Most classes allow drop-ins, but sign up for a whole session and receive a discount.

Cambridge Center of Adult Education
(617) 547-6789
42 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
http://www.ccae.org

Situated in the heart of Harvard Square, CCAE has a 64-year old history of offering a diverse set of classes. While the CCAE offers recreational activities like its counterparts, it also offers educational classes in history, philosophy, and literature. Get your book smarts and street smarts all at the same place.

Harvard Extension School
617-495-4024
51 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
http://www.extension.harvard.edu /

The Harvard extension school offers 540 classroom courses and 54 online courses. Students may take classes just for fun or to receive a degree, a certificate, or diploma. Academic in nature, classes cover a wide range of topics and are hosted by one of the most prestigious universities in the country- but without the fierce competition.

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