Continuing-education programs offer the chance to improve your acumen, bolster your skills, and learn something new.

Looking for new skills to help you advance in your career? Want to finish your degree after leaving college early? Heading back to the classroom might be the way to go. Continuing and adult education programs are an in-classroom experience that can give you an edge in your career and provide networking opportunities. And there are plenty of those opportunities here on the Eastside.

Ruth Krentel, an enrollment counselor for the College of Adult & Professional Studies at Northwest University in Kirkland, said a bachelor’s degree has become almost as necessary as a high-school diploma when it comes to getting jobs in this area. “Students come to us knowing they need to (get a degree).” At schools around the Eastside, there are opportunities to learn everything from marketing to project management to graphic design and much more.

So sharpen your pencils, grab a new Trapper Keeper, and get ready for a new first day of school.

Photo courtesy Seattle University

Photo courtesy Seattle University

Seattle University, Bellevue Campus

In 2015, Seattle University opened a downtown Bellevue campus known as the Eastside Center. There, students can enroll in the Albers School of Business and Economics, Seattle U’s business program.

For those working, Albers has a part-time MBA option that fits with most work schedules. There’s also an executive education program designed for mid- to senior-level professionals. The Executive Leadership Program is an eight-month certificate program and focuses on leadership.

COST $866 per credit (up to 11 credits). 

University of Washington, Bothell

The University of Washington Bothell offers four-year and two-year degree programs with flexible schedules. So if you’re looking for something new or never got a degree, this is the place to get that university feel on a more intimate campus. It’s a great place for nontraditional students, said Lisa Hall, UW Bothell’s communications director.

The only certificate program offered at the school is in electrical engineering, but there are business degrees available to working students through the Eastside Leadership Center.

COST $357 per credit (up to nine credits).

Photo courtesy Bellevue College

Photo courtesy Bellevue College

Bellevue College

In a time of low unemployment, Bellevue College marketing director Gayle Solberg says continuing-education programs can give job seekers skills that will allow them to stand out from the competition.

There’s also an on-campus continuing education program for retirees called Telos, which means “fulfillment” in Greek. Telos has been around since the 1970s, and it’s a way for seniors to get a classroom education on everything from current events to art.

Organizations can partner with the college for in-house employee training. The Business Training Institute goes into corporations and provides training. Organizer Jim Bryan said the institute is a way for managers to bring management education and training directly to employees.

“It’s really set up for training intact groups of people,” said Bryan.

Bellevue College’s continuing education program is one of the largest in the state, according Solberg. It has classes for everyone from teens to retirees, but the focus is on area professionals. “We really concentrate on the business and professional programs,” Solberg said.

(Editor’s note: For an in-depth interview with Al Lewis, Bellevue College’s vice president of economic and workforce development, turn to page 26.)

COST Continuing-education course fees range from $99 to $1,995.

Renton Technical College

For those looking to supplement their career with new training, Renton Technical College has continuing education in trade-specific and general business topics. Class times are modeled for the working student, and some of the classes are available online.

Programs include auto body repair, aviation, culinary arts, and accounting.

Renton Tech was founded in the 1940s to provide vocational training for factory workers building war planes for Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers. Its close relationship with Boeing continues; more than 40 percent of the school’s aerospace-program students end up working at Boeing, according to Keith Leverkuhn, vice president of Boeing’s 737 Max line.

COST $109.75 per credit for Washington residents.

Photos courtesy Northwest University

Photos courtesy Northwest University

Northwest University

Northwest University offers adults a way to work full-time and get a four-year degree with a one-day-a-week class, known as the evening undergraduate program. There also is a two-year associate degree option. “We have a great program for somebody who has a full plate,” enrollment counselor Ruth Krentel said.

Class sizes are usually around 20, and the night class — as is the case with many night classes — is often full of students that are balancing other commitments. Since students can relate to each other’s juggling acts, the class often is a tight-knit group. “We’re a small program, so it’s personal,” Krentel said.

Northwest University’s evening classes try to accommodate adults who don’t have the luxury of being a full-time, on-campus student. Oftentimes, life commitments can get in the way of finishing school.

“It’s pretty tough for an adult to do this … life is pretty demanding,” Krentel said.

Degrees offered include business management, education, psychology, and even faith-based degrees. For those seeking a master’s degree, there is an evening MBA course.

COST $515 per credit.

City University of Seattle

City University describes its programs as ones “for the serious working adult.” Courses are available online or in a classroom, day or night, and there are programs that include both on-campus and online courses. The “regional cohort” style has students view lectures from home and then use class time to work with other students on projects.

COST $300-$500 per undergraduate credit; $565-$800 graduate. Campuses in Bellevue, Renton, and Everett.