The demand for Adult Education is on the rise

    Lifelong learning is critical for personal growth, updating skills for the workplace, advancing a degree, and fulfilling a passion or interest. Find out why adults are returning to school in record numbers.

    Minnetonka Center for the Arts

    If you’ve been ignoring your creative side for far too long, the Minnetonka Center for the Arts can help you discover your inner Picasso. The Center offers a broad range of courses at all levels, from painting to photography to glass, ceramics, sculpture and more. Class sizes are small—designed for greater interaction with the teachers—and available to all ages, interests, abilities, and levels of experience, with evening and Saturday classes available to those who aren’t available weekdays. The teachers, experienced working artists, are extremely talented and helpful. This supportive class environment stimulates creativity, and the state-of-art facilities and studios help build individual skills. The Art Center also has the only publicly accessible bronze foundry in the Midwest, an additional benefit to students.

    2240 North Shore Drive, Wayzata, MN 55391
    952-473-7361 •


    Francene Christianson

    Minnetonka Center for the Arts

    Background: I was an art director in the advertising field for 15 years, took some time off to raise my two children, and felt it was time to get back to my roots as an artist.

    Why did you choose the Minnetonka Center for the Arts? I was impressed by their excellent reputation and I fell in love with the facility, especially the painting studio.

    What advice do you have for future students? Start with the basics! If you’re new to the art world, start with a drawing class, then move to painting and then to sculpture, but definitely start with a drawing class.

    What have you gained from the experience? I have come to appreciate the conversations I have about my work and the dialogue I share with other students. It is so impactful to have like-minded people support you throughout the process. That’s what really makes a difference for me—that supportive network between the students and the faculty here. By painting more and using the Art Center, my work is better, too. I’ve even gotten a few commissions. And becoming a full-time artist while my kids are growing up has helped me think about my role in the family in a different way. It provides a unique perspective, and I enjoy the challenge at this point in my life.

    Argosy University, Twin Cities

    To succeed in today’s competitive workforce, you need a solid foundation of knowledge—and the power to put it to work. And that’s exactly what an Argosy University education offers. Argosy University has developed a curriculum that focuses on interpersonal skills and practical experience alongside academic learning. Full-time, evening, and weekend classes are available, with a blended format of online and “on-ground” classes. Students can mix and match in a variety of formats. Students also like that they’re valued as individuals—the school has a human scale to it. “We’re not so large that students are ‘just a number,’” explains Dr. Scott Tjaden, president of Argosy’s Twin Cities campus. “The focus is completely on the student. We see students basking in the glow of earning their degree. They come here and they become successful. Our students’ success is a direct measure of our success.”

    1515 Central Parkway, Eagan, MN 55121
    651-846-2882 •

    Kathy Novak

    Argosy University
    Major: Psychology (focus on substance abuse among pre-teen adolescents)
    Age: 46


    Background: I started out at a university in 1980, didn’t finish my degree, got married and had three kids (22, 20 and 19), then decided to go to a community college when my kids were older but didn’t finish there, either, because I got caught up in my career. As I got older, I wanted to be able to say I finished my degree. I wanted to do it for myself, but also because the job market is changing and opportunities are changing, and I want to go in with experience and back it up with an education. A lot of companies are looking for the discipline of completing a degree. I wanted that edge.

    Why did you choose Argosy? Location, the program, the available services, the supportive, responsive staff, and having the choice of taking a combination of online classes and courses on campus.

    What are some of the rewards? It’s fun to come back at this age and realize you can still learn, and I’ve met some wonderful people from all walks of life.

    What advice do you have for future adult learners? If you want to go to school, go for it. It can’t hurt to try just one class. You’ll surprise yourself.

    Augsburg College

    Augsburg is a pioneer in the Twin Cities when it comes to adult education, offering weekend classes for nontraditional students as far back as 1982. The program has evolved since then to meet the changing needs of today’s busy adults. “Going back to school is one of the biggest decisions most of us will make, and it should be in a college setting where they ‘get it’,” says Lori Peterson, director of Augsburg for Adults. When it comes to adult learners, Augsburg ‘gets it.’ The college caters to nontraditional students by providing flexible scheduling, weekend and evening tutors, a mix of classroom, hybrid and online courses, and a warm welcoming atmosphere. The staff values the life experiences, knowledge, and skills of adult learners. As one graduate said, “Here you can’t just go with the status quo. Everyone really pushes you to follow your dreams.”

    2211 Riverside Ave. So., Mpls., MN 55454
    612-330-1000 •

    Kristin “Teddie” Lehmann

    Augsburg College
    Major: Political Science         
    Age: 36

    Background: I was working as an administrative assistant and I wanted to get further in life. I was unable to finish college after one of my parents passed away, and had to return home to help raise younger siblings. When I finally had the time to go back to school, I took the chance.

    Why did you choose Augsburg? Location (it was very convenient for me to work full-time and still make it to class), the quality of programs offered, and how Augsburg tailors their learning plans to meet the needs of adults.

    What were some of the challenges? I was pregnant for almost two years straight, and because of the kindness of my instructors at Augsburg, I was still able to finish my classes on time.

    What were some of the rewards? Getting an internship in the Hennepin County Prosecutors office. I am currently applying to law school because of that internship. I also gained a great mentor (my advisor was very supportive and encouraging), a sense of all the possibilities open to me (even when I thought some of them had long disappeared), and a new job (hooray!)

    St. Cloud University

    If your world needs expanding, consider St. Cloud State University. Nontraditional students can take evening, weekend, online, correspondence, interactive television, and off-campus classes toward their degree. A new degree created specifically for adult learners is the bachelor of elective studies (BES), offered online and evenings. “With the BES, adults can create their own program and outline a specific career path, then determine the kind of courses they need to complete that,” explains John Burgeson, dean of continuing studies at St. Cloud State. “A lot of students tell us that if it weren’t for the BES, they couldn’t have come back to college.” Also popular with adult students: the MBA evening program in Maple Grove, certification programs for teachers, and the availability of over 250 online courses.

    720 4th Ave. So., St. Cloud, MN 56301
    320-308-0121 •

    Photo by
    Jenni O’Link

    Eric O’Link

    St. Cloud State
    Degree: Master’s in Business Administration
    Age: 27


    Background: I graduated five years ago with a B.S. in print journalism, and my career has been rich with interesting and rewarding experiences. However, recent developments made the long-term prospects of working in mass media unattractive, so I decided to go back to school.

    Why did you choose St. Cloud State? The university’s satellite Maple Grove MBA program is one of only two in the Twin Cities area accredited by AACSB International.

    What have you enjoyed about the experience so far? The terrific thing about grad school is that everyone in the program brings a unique perspective to the table.



    Tips for Non-Traditional Students

    • Manage your time effectively Students need to be prepared to dedicate the time needed to learn. When taking an online course, it can be easy to procrastinate and surf the Internet instead of studying. Students need to be prepared to schedule time for their homework and studies and stick to it.

    • Polish up your writing skills Whether taking online courses or face-to-face classes, communication is essential. Good written communication skills come in handy whether emailing comments for online discussions
    or completing a ten-page philosophy paper.

    • Embrace your life experiences Experience is often the best teacher. Use it to your advantage.

    • Ask for help when needed When taking an online class, don’t be afraid to contact your instructor with questions or concerns. The same goes for taking a class on campus. Ask when you need help. That’s why your instructors are teachers. They want you to learn the material.

    • Never lose sight of your goals When the going gets tough, remind yourself why you decided to return to school. Post a message on the fridge for inspiration. Think of how proud you’ll feel when you have that degree in your hand, and how much your life will change—for the better—in the future.

    Twin Cities Adult Education Alliance

    About us:

    The Twin Cities Adult Education Alliance is a consortium of colleges and universities in the Twin Cities metro area that have come together to share adult education options with working adults and employers in the area. Our goal is to provide a “one stop shop” for employers who want to encourage the growth of their employees and for working adults who are thinking about going back to school but don’t know where to begin.

    What advice do you have for adults concerned about balancing school, work, and family obligations?

    If you are committed to furthering your education, you can make it happen. It will require determination and sacrifice, but many adults with work and family obligations manage to fit it in. Adult
    students find a way to maximize their time to fit school into their life.

    What tips do you have for those thinking about returning to school?

    Find a school that is going to help you finish and a school that honors the work/family/life balance. Find a school that has a solid reputation and a school that fits your values and goals.

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