Adult Education

Give Yourself a New Lease on Life

May 16, 2023

Career advancement and personal fulfillment can be achieved. Adult Education paves the path to a bright future. Take the next step, whether you are ready to pick up where you left off, brush up on math and reading, learn new skills, or improve your English.

Classes, tutoring, and programs are located across the state for adult learners. Some classes are offered in-person, online, or hybrid. Find an Adult Education Provider near you to receive free assistance with:

  • General Educational Development (GED) Certification
  • Test for Adult Basic Education (TABE) Assessments for Personal Learning
  • Bridge Programs to Overcome Learning Hurdles
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes
  • English and Family Literacy Classes
  • Transitions Courses to Move You Up the Ladder of Success​​​​​​
  • Student Achievement in Reading (STAR) to Advance Reading Skills
  • Workplace Education Courses Offered Onsite
  • Computer Skills Training
  • Correctional Education on Getting Out of Jail and Getting Work
  • English and Family Literacy Classes

To find definitions for each of the items above, check out the Glossary. Click through related resources at the bottom of this page or browse the Financing Education and Training Resources (part of the Money Management Guide).

What is Adult Education?
Adult education and literacy programs help adults obtain basic skills to be productive workers, as well as prepare for college or job training courses. Adult Ed builds on the foundation of academic skills, technical skills, and soft skills.

The major programs are Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, and English Language Acquisition. Programs are free to adult students in need of updating or enhancing basic literacy skills, including:
  • Prepare for High School Equivalency Exam or General Education Development (GED) test
  • Learn to speak, read, and write the English language
  • Improve skills to earn more money, get a promotion at work, find a better job, or continue education/job training
Another option is a Bridge Program to prepare adults with limited academic or limited English skills to enter and succeed in postsecondary education and training. Typically, these bridge programs lead to specific career-path employment in high-demand, middle- and high-skilled occupations.

Who is Adult Education for?
All adults can enter an adult education program; although programs differ, some allow program entry at the age of 16, while others require the participant to be 18 years or older. In most circumstances, you cannot participate in a program if you are currently in high school.
Individuals who may want to participate in an Adult Education class range from:
  • Someone who left high school before graduating
  • Homeschooled and wants a GED
  • Desire a promotion that requires upgraded skills in math, reading, or writing
  • Formerly incarcerated person interested in learning basic reading, writing, and math to help them find a job upon release
  • Laid off from a job and need to update skills before beginning a new career or training program
  • Non-native English speakers

You're Not Alone
Do not feel alone or embarrassed if you did not earn a High School Diploma or GED credential. According to Illinois Community College Board's Fact Sheet, Illinois is home to 1+ million individuals over the age of 16 who have less than 12 grades of formal education. The U.S. Census shows 10.9% of adults in Illinois have not completed high school. There is no age cut-off to earn a GED. What matters is taking action to earn a credential.

How Can I Enroll?
The process to enroll in an Adult Education program varies based on the school; however, each program has a set of enrollment requirements, so it's important to contact the school or program to get this information. Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) offers several ways to find programs in your area.

To find a class or tutor near you, use ICCB's Illinois Adult Education Program Directory and search by your City or Zip Code. For assistance or questions, the IL Adult Ed Hotline is available Monday-Friday between 8:30am-4:30pm via phone or text (800) 321-9511. You can also complete an online request form.

ICCB's "Your Path. Your Future." initiative helps adults connect to services to learn or improve English, math, and reading; access information about the High School Equivalency or Spanish HSE; as well as learn new basic skills. Visit the Illinois Adult Education website to get started.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Program Search also lets you find programs using your Zip Code.

Don't forget to check with your school if they provide free, in-district tuition for classes after successfully completing an Adult Education course or GED.

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