Northeastern State University Continuing Education offers classes for the community and beyond, but lately, there has been a shift from leisure to career courses.

"It's not the soft courses. We offer professional development," said Eloy A. Chavez, dean of the College of Extended Learning.

Many online classes are open to be joined anytime, while others have specific dates for registration. Classes are open to all ages, except gun safety and shooting courses. The spring catalogs will be available in a week or two, but the courses listed online, nsuok.edu/ce, are up to date, and registration is available now.

NSU has partnered with MindEdge Learning to help expand the reach in the local market to bring more professional development through individual courses and certificate programs in project management, Agile, Six Sigma, cybersecurity, human resources management, leadership, business communication, and more.

Many online classes offer discussion groups, academic support, and more, and a network of services are available to students, including Career Services, resume reviews, and job fairs. Those who qualify for Workforce may find grants to help pay for them, especially the underemployed, unemployed, and those who just lost jobs.

"We want to help them build those skills to succeed," said Chavez. "It works toward better citizenship all around."

Those who are unsure if online classes are right for them need to just visit the Continuing Education homepage and use the Learner Readiness Tool.

"It's a tool to check if I am even a good candidate to do something online. It helps for students to understand what to expect," said Jerreth McLaughlin, Continuing Education coordinator.

The tool will cover topics such as time management; learning styles; workspace and environment; reading rate and recell; organizational skills; and technical requirements.

McLaughlin said the NSU Continuing Education courses can cost half as much as some online competitors, while still offering one-on-one assistance. May classes are online or blended with some face-to-face time.

"We have instructors who are specialists in their fields, and they interact with the students," she said.

Certifications are available in these areas and more: business communications, data analytics, entrepreneurship, finance essentials, crime scene investigator, phlebotomy technician, health care administration, human resource, AGILE project management, finance, leadership, digital marketing, cyber security, and nonprofit management.

"We're big on management. We want to help all the managers in the area," said Chavez. "In Broken Arrow in April, we'll have a workforce professional development conference."

Many courses are geared for those in education. An advanced placement institute will be held this summer, and the State Department of Education will pay for part of the registration.

"This is four days of training, and it helps area teachers who teach AP classes," said Chavez. "That's exciting, since the State Department pays about 90 percent."

For high schoolers, prep camps for the ACT, PSAT and SAT are scheduled for Saturdays two weeks prior to the national exam dates. These cover testing strategies, English, reading, math and science.

"We help kids, with a book we've produced, to up their scores," said McLaughlin.

A popular part of CE is the Community Music Academy, which is very robust and open to all ages, according to Chavez.

"Several people have excelled in their skills on playing instruments," he said.

Times and days are dependent upon the individual instructor's schedule and studio availability, but students can choose the length of their lessons and the type of instructor: undergraduate instructor, a junior or senior music education major with training in music pedagogy; instructor, a community member or NSU faculty member without a terminal degree; or NSU faculty instructor.

The class meets 9 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. on Saturday; and 2-5 p.m. on Sunday. Students may register for the following sessions: Feb. 8-9; March 14-15; April 11-12; or May 9-10.

The Oklahoma SDA (concealed handgun licensing) class is an eight-hour course - six in class and two at the range - written by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. It will cover an introduction to handguns; fundamentals of shooting; safety; legal requirements; and how to apply for a handgun license.

The instructor, Dr. Thomas Salmon, is a retired NSU professor; U.S. Army veteran; an Oklahoma-licensed handgun instructor; a certified NRA pistol instructor, rifle instructor, range safety officer; a competitive shooter with the International Defensive Pistol Association; and an International Defensive Pistol Association safety officer. Salmon also leads two NRA certified courses: Basic Pistol Shooting and Basic Rifle Shooting. Check the schedule for specific dates and information.

"Personally, I've taken that course a couple of times. He's the best instructor. He helped me improve my shooting, and he's all about safety," said McLaughlin.

Summer Youth Academies are held through the Continuing Education Department on the Tahlequah and Broken Arrow campuses, and will begin in June with programs available for children ages 4 and older.

Those with questions about specific courses or certifications should contact the Continuing Education office: ce@nsuok.edu; 918-444-4610 for Tahlequah office; or 918-449-6225 for the Broken Arrow office.

"We, as an institution, are approachable, open, flexible - nimble as Dr. [Steve] Turner calls it," said Chavez. "It's all about the students."

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