Learning isn’t just for kids

As the school year begins many adults may find themselves wanting to picking up a notebook, pencil and textbook or laptop to learn something new.

Well, I say go for it!

Here are 10 ways adults can “go back to school” and learn something new this fall:

  1. Lynda.com
    Our cardholders have free access to this popular learning website. You’ll find Lynda.com under the “research it” tab on our website. Use it to take online classes in computer programming, Microsoft Excel, project management, online marketing, Photoshop and much, much more (more than 6,300 classes).
  2. LearningExpress Library
    This is another resource that our cardholders can access from our website under the “research it” tab. LearningExpress Library has test preparation materials for the GED, vocational tests (such as the PRAXIS or Postal Exam), an adult learning center where you can brush up on your reading, writing and math skills or study for the U.S. Citizenship test, and the job and career accelerator can help you explore job options and even search for open positions.
  3. A class at Let’s Help or Washburn Tech
    Let’s Help has Adult Education classes that start every 8 weeks for people who need to work toward getting their GED. Washburn Tech’s Advantage Center offers GED preparation and ESL courses. Students can also start taking technical training classes while working toward their GED through the A-OK program. Besides their regular technical education classes, Washburn Tech offers continuing education on topics like sewing, photography, woodworking, machine tool and welding.
  4. Take a class offered by a local organization or school 
    Shawnee County Parks and Recreation
    offers classes and fitness opportunities at community centers and parks. Washburn University offers continuing education – and any Kansas resident 60 years old or older can audit classes for free. WU also has a Small Business Development Center that offers advising and training for current and potential business owners, and community art classes at the Mulvane Art Museum. These are just a few of the local class opportunities that I know about – I’m sure there are many more.
  5. Great Courses sets from the Library
    The Great Courses company records some of the best college professors from around the country and publishes them on CD or DVD s.  The library has several of these recordings you can check out.  No tuition, no traveling, no tests even – just learning from some of the very best professors  in your own home on your own schedule. Some of these courses are even available to watch online anytime via Hoopla on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Amazing!
  6. Take a class online
    There are many free courses you can take online. Sites such as edX, coursera and FutureLearn list hundreds of courses available to take via your computer and the internet on just about every topic imaginable. Another website I really like that covers learning essential work and life skills is GFCLearnFree.org. They offer free tutorials and practice exercise on topics like reading, math, technology, workplace skills, job hunting, everyday life, money management and language learning. Their sister site GCFaprendelibre.org offers similar tutorials in Spanish.
  7. Digital Learn
    I would be amiss not to mention the free tutorials on technology and job searching available on our Digital Learn website. Learn about computer basics – like how to set up accounts and passwords, how to create a resume, use email, buy a plane tickets and more.
  8. Attend one of our free computer classes
    While we’re talking about learning computer skills, I should mention the free computer classes the library offers. You can take them once or several times until you master the skills and are ready to move on to something different. Topics include E-books and the Library, using Google Docs, Computerized Genealogy, and more. Registration is required. If you have questions about computer training call 785-580-4606 or email class@tscpl.org.
  9. Learn a new language with Mango
    Mango is a language learning program you can use on a computer, smartphone or tablet. It’s free to use with your library card. The lessons use audio and visual cues in an interactive way that makes language learning as easy as possible. English as a second language users can also use it to learn English – there are English courses tailored to speakers of 16 non-English languages. I used Mango to prepare for a trip abroad and it definitely helped!
  10. Take yourself on a field trip!  
    One advantage of being an adult is that you don’t need to get a permission slip from your parents to go on an educational and fun field trip. Visit the Kansas Statehouse or the Kansas Museum of History and brush up on your Kansas history. Visit the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site and learn more about civil rights and desegregation. Visit the Evel Knievel museum and learn more about the colorful life of a daredevil.  Visit the Combat Air Museum and learn more about the U.S. Air Force. Visit the Topeka Zoo and learn more about biology. I’m just scratching the surface of places you could visit in our own city and there are of course many places to visit in Manhattan, Lawrence and other neighboring towns. Get out there and explore and learn!

Bonus tip: If you need a little help, the Topeka Literacy Council can match you with a tutor who will work with you one on one. They focus on helping adults improve reading, writing and math skills, but tutors will work with students on whatever goals they want to achieve. It could be learning more about history, studying for a specific test or improving your English communication skills. Contact them today and see if they can help you.

There are many other area organizations that will also help you achieve your goals. Don’t let anything hold you back!

Happy Learning!


Some of my many roles at the Library include: Tax Form guru, Collectibles collection promoter, Inspirational fiction evangelist, Adult Literacy promoter, Book Group in a Bag cheerleader, So Many Books book discussion group leader, Reader's Advisor and many more.