Image: Paul Windle

Remember possibility? That feeling that you could be anything? It’s still here. Sharpen some no. 2 pencils, load up your Trapper Keeper, and—oh wait, make that download some textbooks on your Kindle—and recapture it. Across Seattle’s adult and continuing education scene are classes long and short, degrees and workshops, certificates and tutorials. By taking just a class or 12, you really can learn to be a firefighter. A yogi. A professional shopper. A ghost hunter. You can even be the person in charge of babies being born. Hey look, you’re a whole new you.

 

 


Get a New Job

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Fire Science Associate in Arts Degree
Be the Hero
Why you should Fighting fires is high paying, high risk, and highly impressive to toddlers everywhere. Admit it; you always wanted to be a fireman or firewoman. Bellevue’s Fire Science program sees everyone from high school graduates to second-career seekers, and its mostly online associate degree program preps them for entry-level fire jobs. Courses involve watching lots of fire videos on YouTube and diagramming how to stop them; then comes the complicated stuff, like learning how an electric car fire is different from a run-of-the-mill flaming Corolla. Students can also get certified for wildland firefighting or go on to become EMTs elsewhere for extra badass points.
What it takes The two-year program includes general education classes and costs roughly $8,5oo.
When to start Applications are accepted through January 4 for the winter quarter. – Bellevue College, bellevuecollege.edu


Become a Mystery Shopper! Workshop
Earn $$ While You Shop
Why you should It’s not (always) a scam: Some companies really do pay people to shop. You anonymously try out a store or service, then submit a report for a small paycheck. Teacher Bethany Mooradian, the self--proclaimed “Queen of the Random Job” who once cleaned Bill Gates’s bathrooms, has more than a decade of mystery shopping under her belt. She demystifies the market research technique, points out where nonscammers hire, and hands out a book covering 170 legit companies and resources. Be warned that it takes volume for the $5 or $10 gigs to be worth it, but Mooradian once made more than $2,000 per month.
What it takes The $44, three-hour workshop runs at University of Washington’s Experimental College, a student--led noncredit initiative.
When to start February 7. – University of Washington, depts.washington.edu/asuwxpcl


Master in Education in Counseling
Offer Advice
Why you should All that harrowing life experience you accrued over the years has to be good for something, right? It’s really the best prep for the Master of Education in Counseling program at University of Puget Sound, where graduates head off to jobs in schools, substance abuse programs, adoption groups, and career and employment services. Students really get to know their classmates during the nighttime classes, since they simulate the cognitive behavior techniques and humanistic methods that counselors use to comfort and guide troubled souls.
What it takes Part-time students who already hold a bachelor’s degree can complete the course in two full years for around $39,360.
When to start Applications for a fall start are due March 1. – University of Puget Sound, pugetsound.edu


Contemporary Boatbuilding Associate Degree of Occupational Studies
Come Sail Away
Why you should Constructing wooden boats was the hottest career of the nineteenth century—and, surprisingly, a good bet in the twenty-first, when a handcrafted skiff can sell for more than 10 grand. Located in Port Hadlock, the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding teaches skills both time honored and contemporary, using wood and composites. The associate degree starts when you make your own wooden mallet and dovetail toolbox, and by the end of the first quarter you’ll make your first dinghy, hopefully one that’s even seaworthy.
What it takes The nine-month, full-time Contemporary Boatbuilding degree costs $13,050, and all you need is a high school diploma.
When to start Courses start in October, but shorter not-for-credit workshops run during summer months.  – Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, nwboatschool.org


Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program, Elementary Education (K–8)
Chalk it Up
Why you should You’ve got a bachelor’s degree and a general affinity for rug rats; all you need is the certification to teach. The flat rate tuition at the online WGU Washington covers as many credits as you can swing in a six-month semester, or as many as your personal mentor thinks you can handle. It usually takes about a year and a half to master everything: classroom management, teaching methods and strategies, not to mention remembering how to do long division again. As soon as the classes are over, the student teaching and spitball--avoiding begins; after that comes state certification.
What it takes The university peruses undergraduate transcripts before acceptance, then mentors students through three or four terms for around $9,670.
When to start Online terms start anytime. – Western Governors University Washington, washington.wgu.edu


Yoga Teacher Training
Stretch Yourself
Why you should When Pacific Yoga teacher Theresa Elliott started downward dogging, she could count the number of Seattle yoga studios on one hand; now there are dozens. The only prerequisite for a 200-hour teaching certificate at her Crown Hill studio is a limber torso and the desire; a next-level 500-hour course assumes some previous yoga instruction. The series of packed weekends is filled with classes on asanas (the poses), pranayama (the breathing), anatomy, and the philosophy of yoga. And don’t forget the business end of the operation; the course even teaches how to take a killer promotional yoga photo.
What it takes $3,495 for eight weekends of instruction
When to start A 500-hour certificate program begins in February 2013, and the 200-hour course starts in winter 2014. a Pacific Yoga, pacificyoga.com


Translation and Interpretation Certificates of Accomplishment
Speak in Many Tongues
Why you should If you already speak a foreign language (and, well, English), you’re sitting on an incredibly marketable skill. A Translation and Interpretation certificate at Bellevue College turns that proficiency into a career. Classes are first a guide to the business, ethical, mannerly, and practical considerations of juggling languages—like what to do when changing an idiom like “It’s raining cats and dogs!” into a foreign tongue. Things are kicked up a notch in upper-level practice classes in translation (which uses written language) and interpretation (which is all spoken).
What it takes Besides fluency in English and another language, just a year and a half of evening classes and $4,740 in tuition
When to start Begin any quarter; spring term starts in April. – Bellevue College, bellevuecollege.edu 


Watch Technology Associate in Arts Degree
Gear Up
Why you should Here’s the secret about watchmakers—they’re an older bunch that’s retiring in droves, so the industry actually needs workers. Because yes, people still wear (and break) watches. Tinkerers with excellent eyesight can earn an associat degree or certificate in watch technology from North Seattle Community College in two years, provided they pass the hands-on tryout. The program was created in partnership with Rolex Watch USA, and almost every single graduate has found watch repair employment in recent years.
What it takes No experience is required, but fine motor skills are tested before students are accepted into the two-year, full-time program. Tuition is $12,558.
When to start Registration for fall 2013 entry begins in May. – North Seattle Community College, northseattle.edu


Master of Science in Midwifery
Birth the Future

Why you should Recession or not, people will always have babies. They’re counting on it at Bastyr, a natural health university in Kenmore, where earning a master of science in midwifery requires training in epidemiology, pharmacology, embryology, and dozens of other --ologies. The low-residency model means classes are taught online with regular on-site visits to campus. Graduates go on to deliver babies in private practice or become teachers themselves, and all midwives emerge ready to apply for state and national certifications—and with an abiding appreciation for the miracle of life and stuff.
What it takes No nursing experience is required for the 11 quarters (about three years) of classes costing $64,167 before fees.
When to start Applications are due February 1 for the September start. – Bastyr University, seattlemidwifery.org

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Game Art and Design Bachelor of Arts
Play the Game
Why you should If becoming a video game artist was easy, every ex-Mario addict would do it. The BFA course at the Art Institute of Seattle is intense and rigorous, with courses in everything from drawing (you have to start somewhere) to storyboarding, 3D model making, and rules of intellectual property. Seattle’s outpost of the school boasts a 100 percent job placement rate for its 2010–11 graduates of the Game Art and Design program. 
What it takes An abiding love for video games, three years at the downtown campus, and $87,300 in tuition 
When to start Winter quarter begins January 7. – Art Institute of Seattle, artinstitutes.edu/seattle 

 

Score New Skills 

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Overcoming Procrastination Class
Stop Stalling
Why you should Name one job or career that isn’t derailed by procrastination—no, not later. Now! See, you can’t do it. Which means the class Overcoming Procrastination for Greater Peace and Productivity, held in Seattle Central Community College’s not-for-credit wing, is for everyone. Run by a time management expert, the course zeroes in on myths about procrastination (news flash: It isn’t simply about laziness!) and techniques that work.
What it takes It’s a two-hour session that usually costs around $39, which won’t tempt you to put it off.
When to start The next session is January 17. – Seattle Central Community College, seattlecentral.edu

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Introduction to Communication Class
Listen Carefully 
Why you should Trying to spruce up workplace interactions? Don’t head to a public speaking class (unless your job title is Chief Orator). Try Communication Studies 101 at Shoreline Community College; yes, there’s a public speaking unit, but the course also addresses the principles of small-group and cross-cultural communication. In practice, you’ll mimic situations regularly found in the twenty-first century workplace, and—shhh!—learn the fine art of nonverbal and listening skills. Bosses love that.
What it takes The evening course meets for several hours a week, and tuition runs around $615.
When to start Winter quarter begins January 7. – Shoreline Community College, shoreline.edu


Speed Spanish Class
Talk Fast
Why you should Because Spanish is a vital language in business and service sectors. Because you took Ancient Greek in high school. Because you have a trip to Buenos Aires on the books. Whatever your reason for rushing through español, there are only six “magic recipes”—basically easy-to-grasp techniques—in South Seattle Community College’s online course. The class emphasizes on-the-street proficiency, not stuffy grammar, and there’s even a final-week lesson on how to use complex negative sentences. You know, for when you get really pissed off at your Buenos Aires cab driver.
What it takes There are two video tutorials for each of the six weeks of class, all online. There are similar courses for Italian, French, and Japanese, all $99 each.
When to start Sessions begin December 12 and January 16. – South Seattle Community College, southseattle.edu



Facebook Fan Page for Small Businesses Class
Spread the Word
Why you should We’ll give you a moment to digest the idea of taking a class to learn Facebook. Okay, now that you’re done feeling like an old fogey, consider this: If you set up your business’s page incorrectly, Facebook could take it down. Oops. And do you know the best time of day to update your company page? How to run an online contest or create a Sponsored Stories ad? Connect with each of your Facebook fans on his or her birthday? It’s all covered in a Facebook Fan Page course run by an Internet design and marketing firm, taught at North Seattle Community College.
What it takes Three evening classes at three hours each, with a tab of $135.
When to start The next course starts January 8. – North Seattle Community College, continuinged.northseattle.edu

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Photoshop CS6 Essentials Class
Picture This 
Why you should So you totally exaggerated on your resume about being a Photoshop whiz. Never fear; they see that all the time at Ballard’s Luminous Works, a training center authorized by Photoshop maker Adobe. Founder Steve Laskevitch calls his Photoshop CS6 Essentials class “intense without being sadistic,” and he estimates that his 12-hour tutorial approximates what a solo learner could figure out after in 400 hours of fiddling. The personal touch: Every student has a computer (Mac or Windows, as they like it), and graduates are welcomed back within a year for a free refresher course or just to email the instructor for follow-up tips. With a little luck, you’ll pull off that lie after all.
What it takes Two intense days, back to back, run $525.
When to start Sessions start December 12 and January 28. – Luminous Works, luminousworks.com


Become More Interesting

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Modern Constitutional Battles Class
Play Politics 
Why you should What use are you at a cocktail party if you can’t chat about commerce clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution? It’s key in understanding hot-button issues like health care reform and same-sex marriage. At UW’s over-50 branch, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, an experienced attorney explains these constitutional conundrums in a -homework-free atmosphere. Membership in the institute is required—as is a birthday that predates the Kennedy -assassination—but the no-stress, no-credit environment is still approved by UW’s academic departments. 
What it takes Four two-hour sessions cover a slate of modern issues, but there’s no required reading in between. Membership is $85 per year, and each class is an additional $35.
When to start Offerings for 2013 will be posted in early December. – University of Washington, osher.uw.edu


Wilderness Skills Certificate
Get Out of Town
Why you should Snowshoeing. Backpacking. Sea Kayaking. Rock Climbing. That’s basically the class lineup for a Bellevue College certificate that might well be called Outdoorsiness 101. Students can go on to become physical education teachers or trip leaders, but many just want the nuts-and-bolts instruction—not to mention the supercheap equipment usage—in the Northwest’s signature sports. First aid and leave-no-trace skills are fundamental, but the main thrust of the program is risk management: Turns out that hiking in an alder forest during a windstorm is much riskier than hiking in bear country, since free-flying branches do more damage than wild creatures.
What it takes Eight separate courses, most held in the great outdoors, earn the certificate. Completing the program costs $2,030, but single courses start around $100.
When to start Winter term begins January 2. – Bellevue College, bellevuecollege.edu


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Make BioChar Workshop
Burn Green
Why you should If your backyard is overgrown with blackberry bushes, reed canary grass, or bamboo, you’re just two days away from producing biochar. It’s a form of charcoal that returns carbon to the soil and turns regular dirt into super soil perfect for gardening. At Antioch University’s Sammamish farm, the weekend workshop starts with a 55-gallon oil drum, which students mold into a biochar stove. High heat, low oxygen, and those pesky weeds become natural charcoal, which replaces harsh pesticides and soil additives—a small Band-Aid on global warming. The oil drums stay on the farm, but the environmental bragging rights are yours to keep.
What it takes The two-day class is $25.
When to start Spring’s first workshop is April 27 & 28. – Antioch University, antiochseattle.edu


Drop-In Improv Dojo
Act Like You Mean It
Why you should Jet City Improv’s weekly classes are, hands down, the easiest way to pick up a new skill in Seattle. There’s no registration for the Monday series, just room for the first 18 students to immediately attack one aspect of improv comedy. Teachers from the University District’s school mold the two-hour workout around nonverbal contributions or instinct, leaving room for, well, improvisation. The comedy form develops quick thinking, creative expression, group interaction skills, and the ability to laugh at yourself.
What it takes Arrive early to snag a spot for $10, or purchase a four-for-$30 punch card.
When to start Next Monday. – Jet City Improv, jetcityimprov.com 


Lunch-Break Cooking Class
Feast on Knowledge
Why you should Because this hour-long class comes with a free lunch, for one thing. Even better, that meal is seasonally appropriate and taught by Rachael Coyle, the culinary director of the Book Larder, Fremont’s foodie bookstore. The chef demonstrates the meal before a small crowd of 10 before serving it up, and ingredients are sourced from the seven sites that make up the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance.
What it takes It’s $25 for the class, lunch, and a treat to go.
When to start Classes are every Monday at noon. – The Book Larder, booklarder.com 


 

Crash Course in Composition
Focus Your Art
Why you should No one’s waiting for the muses to strike at Gage Academy of Art; the one-day collage class is immersive and intense, a boot camp in making the kinds of decisions to which artists must commit. Not that the art class is all about the fast and dirty—skills of editing and rearrangement are key. You have to give the muse a little time to poke her head in.
What it takes The $95 class runs for a complete weekend day. Before buying the required X-Acto knife and cutting mat, look on the school’s website for the list of stores offering a discount to registered students.
When to start The next class is February 23. – Gage Academy of Art, gageacademy.org


 

Paranormal Studies I Class
Spirit Away
Why you should Brace yourself: Ghost hunting isn’t anything like Ghostbusters. Skeptics and believers both can embrace this three-night study of parapsychology, a field that’s actually (truly) scientific. After all, there’s a difference between a haunting, a poltergeist, and an apparition, classifications all covered in North Seattle Community College’s quick course. And did you know that most of ghost investigation—something students perform themselves at an allegedly haunted site—is about methodically ruling out false positives caused by rats, foundation cracks, and faulty plumbing?
What it takes Three weeknights (the third one a field trip) cost $95.
When to start The next haunt happens January 17. – North Seattle Community College, continuinged.northseattle.edu


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Urban Weeds and Wild Foods
Eat Your Greens
Why you should There’s no such thing as a plant too ugly to eat, or so says Seattle Tilth, an organization dedicated to urban gardening and sustainable food systems. A one-day wander through the weeds identifies plants that can be foraged inside city limits, such as dandelions or nipplewort. And because eating raw nipplewort is less fun than it sounds, the harvesting class is followed by a how-to-cook session on preparing your bounty. Also included: inside info on what’s legal and what’s just plain polite when picking weeds in the city.
What it takes The pair of two-hour workshops at Wallingford’s Good Shepherd Center are $36 each for non-Tilth members.
When to start Spring class dates will be posted December 15. – Seattle Tilth, seattletilth.org