Fall is around the corner and many young people are gearing up for the upcoming school year. From elementary to graduate school, eager minds will hit the books and go back to class. Even if you've been out of the classroom for years, there are plenty of institutions in the area that offer flexible and affordable ways to earn a high school diploma, a college degree or a certificate as a full-time working adult.

It might not be a walk in the park, but schools in the Tristate offer a variety of opportunities to learn a new subject, trade or professional certificate.

Many of these programs allow adults the convenience of taking courses online. Some even go as far as allowing total degree completion through the web. Catering to the needs of adult students is a specialty of these institutions and the services they offer reflect their willingness to make achievement possible for adults returning to school. Some of these services such as childcare, housing and transportation assistance, counseling and career guidance. With an increase in online-based programs and adult specialized learning, there has never been a better time for adults to go back to school.

Cincinnati has several institutions that offer specialized curriculum suitable for the busiest adults.

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, which has campus locations in Clifton, Middletown, Harrison and a Workforce Development Center in Evendale, encourages all of its students to "be great at Cincinnati State." The school offers a variety of ways to do just that. Based on the number of credit hours taken, Kentucky and Indiana students can receive instate tuition. It makes Cincinnati State, which offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, one of the best values for education in the Tristate.

Students returning to school with applicable work experience can also test out of classes with knowledge from past jobs. Cincinnati State also accepts passing credits earned at other colleges or universities.

For students with children, the William Mallory Early Learning Center provides childcare on campus while also serving as a learning lab for students. Another option that Cincinnati State offers is distance learning through online classes. The program requires students to have adequate technological resources because the curriculum uses online lectures. Students interested in this program can take the SmarterMeasure assessment on Cincinnati State's website to see if they are ready to begin learning from a distance.

With campuses in Florence and Tri-County, as well as five programs offered online, Beckfield College has services to help adult learners achieve success. Students can earn a high school diploma, certificates, associates and bachelor's degrees in many programs and areas such as allied health, business and technology, criminal justice, nursing, and paralegal studies. As part of its student services department, Beckfield also provides assistance in childcare, housing and transportation while helping students find a better balance between work and life.

Similar to their student services, Beckfield's career services are also extensive. They offer assistance in job searching, resume development, interview coaching and more to ensure their students leave school equipped with the tools to succeed in the professional world. Beckfield aims to make scheduling easier by giving students the option between full-time and part-time enrollment and a variety of class options. In addition, Beckfield was named a military-friendly school by G.I. Jobs and awards class credit for military experience relative to a student's future endeavors.

For those who want to further their education, but don't know what career path is right for them, Beckfield offers a free career assessment on their website.

At Chatfield College "big dreams come true" and nontraditional college age students make up nearly half of the student dreamers. Classes are small and average 5- to-15 students per class, so each student gets plenty of attention. For on-the-go students, Chatfield's classes meet once a week for two-and-a-half hours so it's easier for full-time or part-time students to schedule classes they need to complete.

Chatfield offers associate degrees in a number of programs including business and information systems; education; human services; psychology; creative and performing arts; foreign language; math; science; and more. For transfer students, or those who have completed college courses at a different institution, Chatfield accepts up to 45 hours of transfer credits. And students can attend either the Findlay Market Campus or St. Martin Campus. Students are also awarded on a course-by-course basis to students who received a grade of C or better in the previous course.

Like Beckfield, Chatfield has been named a Military-Friendly School and offers help to veterans applying and works with them to ensure that they get all of the educational benefits they have earned. More than 80 percent of students who attend Chatfield College receive some form of financial aid.

For adults looking to earn their high school diploma or complete a career training degree program, Great Oaks has a variety of programs and options to get them going in the right direction. One option for high school diploma completion is an adult basic and literary education, which is designed for those 18 and up who wish to prepare to pass the GED test and improve reading, writing and math skills. The second is Great Oak's Gateway to Success program for students from 18 to 21 years old who wish to earn their diploma from a Great Oaks partner high school that they had attended. Classes in this program are computer based so hours are flexible and students can move at their own pace. For adults that have their high school diploma, Great Oaks offers career-training programs ranging from aviation maintenance to web and graphic design. Great Oaks also offers personal enrichment and public safety services including concealed carry and motorcycle safety classes.

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Cincinnati State

Clifton Campus: 3520 Central Parkway, Cincinnati. 513-569-1500

Middletown Campus: 1 N. Main St., Middletown. 513-217-3700

Harrison Campus: 10030 West Rd., Harrison. 513-367-1200

Workforce Development Center: 10100 Reading Rd, Cincinnati. 513-569-1643

Websites: cincinnatistate.edu, workforcecincinnati.com
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Beckfield College

Florence Campus: 16 Spiral Dr., Florence, KY. 859-371-9393

Tri-County Campus: 225 Pictoria Dr., Suite 200, Cincinnati. 513-671-1920

Website: beckfield.edu

Chatfield College

Findlay Market Campus: 1800 Logan St., Suite 210, Cincinnati. 513-921-9856

St. Martin Campus: 20918 State Route 251, St. Martin. 513-875-3344

Website: chatfield.edu
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Great Oaks

Diamond Oaks: 6375 Harrison Ave., Cincinnati. 513-612-7003

Laurel Oaks: 300 Oak Dr., Wilmington. 937-382-1411

Live Oaks: 5956 Buckwheat Rd., Milford. 513-612-4908

Scarlet Oaks: 3254 E. Kemper Rd., Cincinnati. 513-771-8881

Website: greatoaks.com