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THE WORD ROAD, Importance of Being a Life Long Learner

I have always tried to be a life long learner. Due to our family financial situation as I was growing up with a single mother I did not finish my college education. I attended a business college in my home town and earned an Associates Degree in business with an emphasis in real estate. Upon graduation, I went to work with a local bank and went through a management training program starting as a bank teller or customer service person, then to the collection department, then to the property management section of the Trust Department managing real estate properties. However, after about four years of frustration with management being notoriously conservative with financial progress, I decided to leave the banking business. While as an employee of the bank I tried to enhance my education by taking classes offered by the American Institute of Banking, but the promised financial rewards did not follow.

The next stop on my career path was the wholesale paper business. I was transferred to Idaho where I called on printers and other industrial paper customers. Later I was transferred to Arizona. While in these areas, I became acquainted with the International Correspondence Schools (ICS) by enrolling in Management and Marketing courses. This was my first experience with what is now known as “distance learning.” At the time, during the 1970s the format of the courses were printed booklets covering the curriculum material. The student finished the assignments and mailed it back. It was then returned by the instructor with comments to the student, all by mail.

When we decided to return to Utah, I became a sales representative in the printing industry spending time selling business forms and then book manufacturing services, serving book publishers in the publishing industry in several western states.

However, the nagging feelings of discontent set in again after about twelve years in the printing business. I wanted more but I really didn’t know what I wanted. So far, I had been successful in property management. I had been successful in the paper business, in the printing business, especially book manufacturing. I had attracted business from publishers in several western states to the printing and binding plant in Utah.

Because of my discontent, I left the printing business and experienced several agonizing years of wondering “what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

During this period of exploration, I encountered ICS again. I became the Utah area representative of ICS Intext, division of National Education Corp. They still had the old paper booklets with certification courses for power, water, and gas utility companies and State Certification courses required by the National Highway Department. They had developed a laser disc training program for Computer Numerical Control and other industrial type courses. I successfully sold a large order in a military ordinance facility, as well as training material to all water, power and gas utility companies in the state.

But, again I wanted more! Especially more income. I knew I was capable of more income, I just needed to find the right opportunity. Deep down inside I knew I wanted and needed more education. And maybe even a change of careers. Then I found it! I had watched the progress of an Arizona based college for working adults as they came into Utah, and I was about to take the plunge and enroll. As I made my first inquiry I was told they would give me credit for life experiences as well as evaluate my prior credits from my prior educational experiences. As our daughter graduated from BYU with her Bachelors Degree I felt it was time to finish my Bachelors Degree. I enrolled at the University of Phoenix, Salt Lake campus and earned a Bachelors Degree of Arts in Management and Marketing. I even served as the Alumni Association President for two years. Coincidentally, our daughter earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling as she was working there.


I’ve always wondered if ICS was still in business so I decided to Google it. This is what I found according to Google:

ICS was founded in 1889 in Scranton, Pa. It also has a branch in the UK in Glasgow, Scotland since 1904. Currently it serves about 17,000 students across 98 countries in the UK, the Middle East Ireland and the USA.

The mission of the school was to provide practical men with a technical education, and technical men with a practical education. ICS created its own specially prepared “Instruction and Question Papers” instead of textbooks. By 1900, one in 27 Americans had taken a correspondence with ICS. The organization is now known as ICS Learn and has online learning courses. Keeping up with modern times!

A pioneer in the field of adult education is John Sperling. Born in 1921 to a poor share cropping family in the Missouri Ozarks. His father worked for the railroad and his mother was a fundamentalist Christian. John spent several years as a sailor in the Merchant Marines, and even as a wondering 1950s beatnik.

John attended college in Oregon at Reed College, then earned a Master’s Degree from the University of California, Berkeley with the help of the GI Bill, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economic History from King’s College, Cambridge.

Dr. Sperling founded the University of Phoenix in 1976. He was 53, with no track record in business and no investors. The parent company is the Apollo Group which owns a total of four for profit schools. As of November 2005, the total enrollment of four schools was approximately 315,350 students making it then “the nations largest regionally accredited private university.”


Can you image life these days without your computer? The development of the computer coupled with the Worldwide Web has transformed the way people do research and also the way people learn!

I distinctly remember two research papers from my early college days. The first one was “Fidel Castro’s Rise to Power in Cuba” for an English class and “The Geological Make Up of the Great Basin in Utah.” Now days, all a student has to do is enter the subject into google and several references come into view, We can go to Wikipedia for almost everything, and the information is supplied with all the references we need.

Back in my early days of college we spent a lot of time in the library where we would go to the “Stacks” of magazines for current events or to encyclopedias, professional papers or journals for more detailed technical information.

What a transformation the computer and the worldwide web have made in education. Now this information is all on line. All we have to do is log in, find our bookmark and go to work.

With online delivery we also have several choices of what to study. If we regret never finishing our Bachelors Degree , like me, we can find several programs to help accomplish that goal, Or, if perhaps we are not interested in an academic track pursuit and would rather have a technical or vocational track, that is also available.

The website www.geteducated.com/distance learning informs us that “almost 40% of post secondary students are adult learners, 54% are between the ages of 25 and 29, and 34% over the age of 39 are full time students.”

In an article on this site entitled “How To Earn an Online Degree Fast”, we are informed of four different models specifically developed for adult students:


These programs allow you to complete a degree faster but have more stringent application requirements. For example, undergraduate programs require either 60 hours of completed college credits or an Associates Degree. An accelerated graduate degree program will almost always require a Bachelors Degree.


Accelerated courses take the content covered in a 15 week, 3 or 4 credit course and condense it into a shorter time frame.


Individualized programs offer the greatest amount of flexibility, and allow you to move through your program at your own pace, speeding up or slowing down where necessary.


I was so grateful for this feature at the University of Phoenix. It gave me several hours of credit.

I would like to encourage anyone who is looking for degree completion education to refer to the website: www.geteducated.com?distance educationguide. It will give you links to several top adult degree programs for fast flexible education.

But what if a college degree program is not for you? That is OK! There is a place for you in adult education programs also! In fact, a study noted in the publication: HOME ROOM, the official blog of the US Department of Education states, “only 8 million of America’s 15 million high school students participate in a CTE (Career and Technical Education) course in a given year. Additionally, only 1 in 5 high school students chose to concentrate in a CTE program of study. Too few students are taking advantage of CTE educational opportunities that lead to great jobs. It is time for Career and Technical Education in the US to be the nimble, demand driven, talent development system that it is meant to be.”

Let’s discover more about CTE!

Formerly known as Vocational Education or Vo Tech, CTE includes 16 career clusters also known as tracks.

They are as follows:

*Health Science




*Information Technology

*Science, Technology, Engineering, Math







*Human Services



*Arts, Audio, Visual Technology and Communications

Career Training Education is the practice of teaching specific career skills in Middle schools, High schools, and post secondary institutions.

The rest of the story for me was a successful completion of my degree which helped to bolster my confidence to become self-employed in an enjoyable and successful career selling books to schools and libraries.

I developed a love of the publishing business. I enjoyed getting to know my clients and my products better. And I was earning a better living, even with a straight commission income.

In future articles, we’ll discover more regarding “life long learning” information and feature some opportunities for learning in several applications.

We hope you have enjoyed this article and hope it has been helpful for you as you may be considering future education opportunities.

Thank you for reading!

Michael Inman


“Encouraging Literacy and Learning”

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