By Lauren Charley

Many of us learn a lot of information during our years, through education, work experience in a variety of jobs, and simply through challenges which once played a significant role in our life. However, if we do not continue to utilize these skills or practice new ones, we often lose our abilities to work with them, and must re-train all over again. With the complexities and demands of our current jobs, any time spent outside the workplace we see as downtime to, “veg out” or unwind in activities which require little mental effort…but it is important to keep up with our cognitive abilities on a variety of platforms, to exercise all areas of the brain and in turn, use this new expertise to benefit ourselves in both our work and social lives.

Niagara College Continuing Education
Continuing education programs are becoming increasingly popular amongst working professionals. By partaking in such programs, they can expand their studies or achieve career goals by taking industry relevant courses to obtain a certificate in their current field, or attend a post-diploma program to gain knowledge in another area of expertise.

The Niagara College Continuing Education programs allow students to build upon their pre-existing skills and experience, in order to advance their credentials with an official diploma or certificate from this acclaimed Ontario college institution. Students choose from a wide variety of courses for both professional development and general interest. The programs of study include a mix of enriching lectures, seminars and discussions, taught by industry professionals with current work experience and a passion for teaching.

The college conveniently offers evening and weekend hours, as well as over 400 online courses where an education can be obtained directly from home. Students may choose to select individual elective classes or complete, within a five year period, a specific part-time program of study by taking required subjects. A few of the programs available at Niagara College include Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, Medical Office Assistant, and Web Design. These curriculums are designed to prepare students for a specialized career in their chosen occupation by granting them a Professional Association Equivalency.

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Every day I’m learning something new.

-Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

Richard Branson is renowned as one of the “founding fathers of modern business practices”, based on his success as an entrepreneur, and is therefore a role model for businesspeople worldwide. His quote illustrates the importance of continued education for aspiring professionals, as the world is constantly changing and adapting. It is up to entrepreneurs to stay ahead of new innovations and knowledge, by attending lectures, taking courses, and doing their own research to stay abreast of business trends.

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Brock University Community Learning
Brock University believes that learning and education plays an essential role in our community, as it is where we discover our strengths and interests while feeling a sense of belonging. Although Brock is proud to offer quality education to students pursuing post-secondary degrees and qualifications, they also acknowledge that there are skills and experiences gained beyond the traditional classroom setting which are useful to apply in both our careers and everyday life. Therefore, they encourage citizens of all ages to come together to try new things, share knowledge, and discuss ideas by participating in activities and events designed at the grass roots level.

For a fee, Brock offers elementary school kids a variety of educational clubs designed to intrigue children to learn while engaging in fun activities with their peers. Meetings for these clubs take place right on the Brock University campus from 5-7pm on select week nights, which are listed on the Brock U website. Community courses are available not only to children, but to teens and adults too. Operating similarly to the kids clubs, youth and adults can engage in creative and didactic programs such as Spanish, art, and technology subjects. Family Adventures are a great way for children and parents to bond while demonstrating their talents and abilities as they work together to solve challenges in special workshops on designated dates, taking place at the university campus.

Brock also partners with community organizations and associations to host both Conversation Cafés and a program called “100 Days of Learning”. Conversation Cafes are facilitated discussions which take place on Tuesday evenings at Maytay Café in downtown St. Catharines from 7:30-8:30pm. Discussing material on a variety of subjects encourages individuals to expand their horizons and learn about unfamiliar topics. Similarly, the “100 Days of Learning” initiative raises awareness to the many varied low-cost or free learning experiences available throughout the Niagara Region. For 100 days, the university promotes an educational activity for children and/ or adults to expose individuals to unique opportunities we can enjoy in the community.

Free University-level Online Courses
Obtaining an education through some of the world’s most renowned universities is no longer only obtainable to those blessed with the financial funds, or fortunate enough to receive scholarships and grants. Universities including Harvard, MIT, and The University of Washington are only some of the institutions now offering courses to the general public for affordable tuition or even free of charge. Prospective learners can take advantage of this by choosing from over 400 online classes available on several web databases, including Coursera, EdX, and Lynda. These websites provide students with a platform based on teaching methods applied by top researches, used in post-secondary educational institutions.

The U.S. Department of Education concluded through studies that students who take online courses, whether completely online or blended, produced stronger outcomes than students who were taught solely through face-to-face interaction in a classroom setting. Established professionals are amongst the many who choose to advance their education by enrolling in online courses. Some of the most popular classes taken by those already established in their careers include public speaking, how to reason and argue, and introductory finance.

Developing New Skills and Interests
Learning something new and stepping outside your comfort zone involves many areas of the brain and can help forge new neural pathways. Neural science experts recommend learning a second language; bilingualism causes centres in your brain to grow and can stave off dementia by up to five years. The skill can also boost your memory, increase your attention span, and improve efficient multi-tasking. Similar advantages are produced by taking up a new instrument, which can advance core educational skills such as mathematics, reading and comprehension, as well as sharpening your mental concentration.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a social networking website for entrepreneurs and professionals who wish to connect with like-minded individuals for the purpose of building their reputations in their careers. In addition to showcasing one’s resume and an optional portfolio of work samples, profiles highlight the specific skills the user has acquired, which may also be endorsed by others who have worked with them. Employers use LinkedIn as a way to scope out potential new recruits to their company, and therefore seek out the ones with unique talents which will be the greatest asset to their team. By building these lists, you are at a better chance of being scouted by someone who may offer you an incredible opportunity to advance your career.

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Eat Antioxidants
Foods which are rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries and dark chocolate, have been proven to reduce free radicals, the agents responsible for causing age-related diseases through the process of oxidization. These “super foods”, which include a lot of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seafood, act as your brain’s defense against these free radicals, helping to reduce or prevent mental health issues including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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