Q: As a mathematical amateur no longer attending university, I miss the stimulation
of taking a math course. If my interest were modern languages (for example), I
could take what they call 'continuing education' courses at almost any college
or university, but for the mathematical enthusiast these institutions seemingly
have nothing. Can anybody suggest a comparable alternative?
A:Why does 'continuing education' not include (at least potentially) math? At one university I know (George Mason U.), they have a category called 'Extended Studies', open more-or-less to anyone paying the tuition, and it is certainly possible to take courses (including graduate-level) under that dispensation. There may be limits on how many you can take, etc., but it is routinely used by non-students who want to sample a course or two, for genuine 'continuing education', or as a way to help decide if they want to enroll in a degree program. (And if they do, the courses taken under Extended Studies count.) Not all colleges/universities are going to be that open, nor should they be. But many are. The kind of program that would be ideal for you is the Johns Hopkins Part-time Programs in Science/Engineering (http://www.apl.jhu.edu/), which has math courses (which I've taken.) You are probably not near the JH area (Baltimore/Washington), but I mention it to indicate that such programs do exist. These programs, like Mason, consciously cater to a broad professional audience, people already working in a field who would like to take a course here-and-there, or even work on an advanced degree in the evening. For that to be possible the university must be located in an area that has such a potential clientele, which generally means a large urban area. If you're not in such a locale, it may not be possible to find what you want. But if you are, and if there are several colleges around, I'd bet an aggressive search would turn up something. Supposedly, MIT has put all its courses online for free. (Which means the materials are out there, but not so much the instruction.) The trouble you run into is that there is not too much demand for an evening course or a satellite campus course in Abstract Algebra (although this does happen under some circumstances.) So it's hard to convince a dean to "waste" a faculty member on a course with an enrollment of 2.
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