What you need for a successful further education
Continuing education is more important today than ever, because in a modern society there is a constant change, which people have to adapt to if they want to participate in social life. This ranges from personal needs for further education to professional training for taking over higher management positions. Continuing education is divided into further training in the narrow sense, further education and retraining. In all cases, you need respective prerequisites in order to successfully complete your educational programs; especially for long-term educational initiatives, you need not only financial resources, but also clear structures and a lot of self-competence.
If you are thinking about continuing your professional development or if you already have a very concrete idea for your further education, the next thing you need is a plan with which you can successfully carry out your project. For this plan you need an overview of all the factors that influence your progress in any way. It is therefore a question of what kind of framework you need to create, in which you can move optimally in order to successfully complete your educational program. The framework is usually determined by the following parameters:
Clear goals and support
In the first step you need to know exactly what you are aiming for with regard to further training. Of course, you can also simply continue your education for knowledge or interest. However, as a rule it is more likely that further training is linked to a very precise goal: Either it is about a qualification on the horizontal level, i.e. that you can take over further tasks within the scope of your profession, or it is about a qualification on the vertical level, so that you can apply for higher positions and move up in the company hierarchy. Therefore, the most important point at the beginning is to think carefully about what you need the further training for. Complete the following sentence:
I want to continue my education, because I… … … …
If you have your goal, the next step is to develop a perspective. You need to relate this to your support options. Check your resources and ask yourself exactly what kind of support you need. Only when you know what you can fall back on can you realistically assess whether your educational programme can be implemented within your framework.
Support means in detail:
How can you pay for further education? Do you have enough money yourself? Can friends or family lend you money? Does your company support you financially in your continuing education? What support programmes can you take advantage of? Do you perhaps need a bank loan?
What is the time frame? Can you find enough time to study? Who can help you here? Maybe you can work with your company to adjust your working hours or you can get special holidays.
Maybe your partner can help you with the household chores.
All important areas of life should be reflected upon and perhaps this will lead to the decision to give up favourite leisure activities for a certain period of time.
What can you do to improve your logistical position? Do you have access to important learning materials at any time? Can you use the Internet effectively for research and thus access important literature?
Do you have the possibility to easily visit the face-to-face courses of the further education? Who can help you here?
In addition to these “external” conditions, the “internal” conditions are of particular importance. “Inside” in this case means your personal cognitive and emotional skills. Can you work in a structured way? Can you research independently? Do you recognize serious literature? Can you evaluate and justify opinions? Do you have special learning strategies? How effective is your time management? How high is your stamina? Are you self-disciplined? Do you manage to work consistently or do you like to distract yourself?
If you notice, suspect or know that you are missing crucial competencies, it is advisable to take another training course before your further education, namely one in which you can acquire the necessary competencies. Equipped with these, you can then get back to your original goal.
An overview of the most relevant competences:
Do you manage to stay on the ball even in difficult situations?
Assertiveness: Do you succeed in asserting your claims and, for example, in criticising evaluations in the context of further training if you can justify this criticism objectively?
Can you work and learn on your own responsibility or do you need more in-depth support from coaches, mentors, teachers etc.?
Decision-making ability: Can you justify, make and reflect on decisions?
Can you critically evaluate your own behaviour and experiences and thus improve your learning behaviour?
Ability to structure: Are you able to organise knowledge or existing structures in such a way that you can work efficiently and effectively? Can you organise information independently?
What about changing your usual way of thinking or acting and adapting to new circumstances? Can you apply new learning strategies?
Creativity: Are you resourceful when it comes to preparing knowledge for yourself?
Willingness to perform:
How high is the motivation to really stay on the ball and generate high performance?
Willingness to learn:
Sure! You want to continue your education, so there’s a certain willingness. But are you also willing to really absorb new things, to internalize them instead of just learning them by heart?
Can you independently develop meaningful connections and transfer knowledge from one area to another?
Can you create work plans, set yourself tasks, find solutions independently? Can you use your resources efficiently?
Willingness to take responsibility:
Are you prepared not only to take on tasks but also to bear the consequences of wrong decisions?
How consistently do you stay on target? Are you able to delete goals in time and replace them with new ones?
Use the questions about the competences shown here to make you aware of your strengths and weaknesses! The more you consciously experience, the more you can consciously shape and optimize your further education.
Schedule and structure
In addition to personal skills and available resources, you need a schedule for longer-term training courses.
This is generally specified by the educational institutions. Dates for attendance courses or examinations are common, for example.
However, there is more to the timetable than the formal design. You must draw up your own plan in order to be able to learn continuously. This then requires appropriate self-discipline in its implementation, because one risk in further education is to neglect learning because one is not “forced” to sit at the school desk every day.
So you have to take care on your own to create a learning plan, to implement it and to adjust it if necessary. This is also accompanied by a change in your familiar structures. You simply need time and space for learning. This means that you need to know where, when and how you can learn best and then change the structures to maintain these conditions.