Saturday, January 22, 2011

Know Your Adult Education Center (AEC)

A few months ago, longing for the familiar feel of a classroom and the excitement of delving into something new, I decided to take a class. Offerings at the nearby community college proved too costly, but the prices at my local adult education center (AEC) fit nicely in my budget - and the center was in walking distance to boot. Poring over the course listings, I ruled out anything centered on cooking (I almost made my pastry partner cry when I accidentally ruined all 3 of our confections in "Vegan Baking 101"), language (6 years of Spanish and all I can muster is an "hola"), or self improvement ($126 for "Choosing the Right Look for Your Hair"? I hope it comes with a professional foil). Still, I was left with plenty of possibilities - music, dancing, computer skills, writing, theater, and crafts were all up for grabs. In the end, I settled on the 6 week, "Introduction to Graphic Design".

Now I have to admit, as excited as I was, I had some preconceived notions of what the AEC would be like. The building looked cool enough, but I imagined its patrons would be of the silver haired variety, or the younger nerdy lost soul type (not so unlike yours truly). The inside would be a little sterile and depressing, a weird sour smell emanating from the Cheese Making Workshop down the hall, the relative quiet punctuated on occasion by a happy exclamation from "Predicting Your Love and Marriage: Workshop with a Psychic" in room 201. On my first night of graphic design I couldn't help but arrive a little early to scope out the scene.

Before entering the center I could see that I couldn't have been more wrong. The crowd in the demonstration kitchen filled the floor length windows facing the street. With a twist of the door handle came an outpouring of happy chatter and cheers that would rival a taping of Emeril Live. And while I did see a group of cute old ladies exiting one of the computer labs (my guess, "Introduction to Microsoft Word") my class was filled with young professional types looking to add to their skill set. My class was taught by a talented graphic designer with a proclivity for demi gothic typefaces who mainly teaches at the Art Institute. 6 weeks later, I was really happy with my experience and significantly more confident in my ability to make a kick-ass invitation.

If you haven't ventured to your local AEC before, it's absolutely worth checking out. You might surprised by the breadth of course offerings, the affordable rates, and the cool people you'll meet. If you're a commitment-phobe, most centers offer one-time classes or day-long intensives to get you started. Just Google your city + "center for adult education".

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