The importance of lifelong learning

Navigating the constant evolution of the workplace is important, and having the right skills will help you land a great job after graduation. Therefore, it’s important to consider yourself a lifelong learner. Whether you’ve left university to pursue a career or are a first-time student, keeping up with the latest skills is important. As Corporate Finance Institute reports, “The corporate world is continuously evolving, with industries and jobs expanding at a rapid rate. Job descriptions change and skill sets that used to be needed for a particular job may not be enough nowadays.” Therefore, considering yourself someone who’s open to ongoing education is one of the best ways to make sure you’re going to be a viable candidate.

As time goes on, lifelong learning will become normalized as part of our educational experience. While in the past, folks trained for one career and generally stayed on that path throughout their lives, that’s not so much the case now. As Roger James Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Genius Group, writes in Global Banking and Finance Review, “With technology blurring the lines between sectors and speeding up processes, working adults are more likely to jump from sector to sector, picking up new skills and acquiring new knowledge.” Therefore, you’ll also need to discern how you want to accomplish further education, be it online or in person.

Online

There are many pros to choosing online education. First, you’re no longer restricted by geography, meaning you can have access to the top schools around the world, including those in the USA, wherever you are based. Wherever you can take a laptop and get reliable internet access, you can learn.

Additionally, you’ll be able to engage with a wide range of people quickly, while also receiving swift assistance from educators, and other university officials when you need help. Learning how to navigate an online learning environment can also help you gain valuable experience with utilizing different platforms, which can be helpful down the road in your job search.

For many students, an online education proves to be more cost-effective than in person schooling. This allows students the opportunity to remain at home, have more flexibility in their scheduling to accommodate work and family schedules, as well as save money on commuting to campus.

With the pros, there are of course some cons. Students who choose to go to school online may feel they miss out on the in-person engagement on campus, depending on their personality and the set-up of the program in question. Additionally, they will need to be comfortable with receiving support virtually, as well as get used to working primarily over computer screens with professors and peers. Finally, online students don’t get the benefits of visiting a student union, where most student affairs offices, as well as other learning and social opportunities, are often housed.

On-campus

Students who attend classes on campus get full access to all the university has to offer, from in-person support services, clubs, organizations, tutoring, and other activities. Additionally, being on campus allows you to meet and mingle with other students who may share similar interests, which can be helpful for sparking friendships or creating study groups.

Attending school on campus allows students to immerse themselves in the local culture and partake in student life, which can include living on campus in residence halls, dorms, or apartments. This can give you opportunities to be involved, make friends, and stay better connected with your university. But of course, to study on campus, or at least to experience the full, immersive benefits of doing so, requires a lot of time and often a lot of money, too. Many students can save a lot on accommodation, commuting, and food and drink by studying at home.

The University of California, Irvine

Like all institutions, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) was not immune to the issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senior policy advisor for higher education Lande Ajose leads Newsom’s Council for Post-Secondary Education, which assembled a task force to develop a road map for higher education after the pandemic that would help aid the state’s recovery. One of the goals of the task force is to increase online offerings in California, thus making it easier for more students to access higher education.

In an effort to address these concerns, the University of California, Irvine is taking things to the next level. For example, to get students ready for the expanding needs of employers in the technology industry, the three-month Accelerated Certificate Program (ACP) in Data Science from UCI Division of Continuing Education (UCI DCE) covers a wide array of topics in data science, making it a great choice for students who want to enhance their skillsets. The university itself continues to be at the forefront of digital education, consistently increasing their online offerings, as well as the quality of their courses.

There are tons of other great offerings, particularly for international students. Students from abroad can participate in English Language Programs, Accelerated Certificate Programs and Internship Experiences, and can even customize their own learning plan. No matter where you are in the world, you can find an education program that fits your needs, and gets you prepared for a career in your chosen field.

Mariana Boeira Pozas enrolled at the University of California, Irvine after leaving her marketing business in Brazil to move to the United States. Realizing she needed to freshen up on her skills to attract American clientele, she enrolled in an Accelerated Certificate Program at UCI DCE. She created her own education pathway by combining studies in Data Science, Data Analytics for Business, Digital Marketing and Communications, as well as Business English. After graduating, Pozas earned an internship at retail marketing innovator AWM Smart Shelf, which led to a full-time data analyst position.

Fellow Brazilian UCI DCE graduate Fernanda Figueira told Study International, “My program was very organized, and all the teachers had a wide range of knowledge in the subjects they were teaching. For me, the biggest benefit of the program was definitely the networking. I will apply everything I learned during the program to my professional life.”

UCI has also partnered with FutureLearn to offer “portable microcredentials to lifelong learners on a global scale.” This partnership will allow “learners to enhance their skills, competencies and knowledge in order to grow or expand their career prospects.” For students who are looking to further their education while staying in their home countries, this is a great opportunity.

Students choosing to return to school or to continue their education are sure to find support from UCI DCE, which provides many activities and opportunities for students to engage, both online and in person. Whether you’ve been out of school for a while, or are continuing on after graduation, you’re sure to find an organization or activity that helps you meet your personal or professional goals.

Ultimately, choosing whether to pursue more education online or in-person is a decision only you can make. However, with the wide array of options available from UCI DCE, there’s lots to explore…

Article written in association with the University of California, Irvine – Division of Continuing Education.