Personal Enrichment Correspondence Education

This is the easiest level at which to begin. There are no grades to earn or credits to accumulate. Nothing matters but your personal fulfillment and enrichment. There is no way to officially evaluate the quality of a personal enrichment course or program because the experience will be subjective.

Compare the program outlines to the free Bible study courses in the previous chapter. The two are similar, except that these courses are secular. No one accredits personal enrichment courses. No one awards continuing education units (CEUs) for this level of study. And only a few educational institutions offer personal enrichment courses. But if the institution is known for delivering quality distance education, it is probably a good place for your personal enrichment courses as well.

Personal enrichment courses might include religious studies (Buddhist, Christian, Mormon, etc.), low-level academic studies, nonprofit studies, and even Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) classes. Many are free to prisoners or have a nominal fee, although exceptions like Louisiana State University and Brigham Young University charge for classes. Others, like Prisoner Assistance Scholastic Service, charge $500 for the entire program.

Adult Continuing Education

Adult Continuing Education classes are the most common classes taken in American prisons and cover a variety of subjects. The most prevalent advanced education opportunity for federal prisoners is Adult Continuing Education (ACE) classes. Offered within prisons, these classes are 6-12 weeks long. They are similar to typical adult education courses, where a teacher (in this case, an educated prisoner) teaches a class about some area of interest. Business planning, Spanish, writing, legal research, and accounting are the mainstays of most ACE classes. Upon completion of ACE courses, the prisoner is awarded a certificate of completion and can then enroll in another ACE class. As with GED classes, such classes’ waiting lists can be lengthy.

Asian Classics Institute offers an outstanding Buddhist studies program by correspondence free to prisoners. Students can literally study at ACI for decades. For incarcerated Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and those interested in learning more about Buddhist teachings, the Asian Classics Institute is the school to attend.

Louisiana State University offers two distinct categories of personal enrichment courses, all not for credit: the General Courses and the College-Preparatory Courses. The value of courses that help a prisoner prepare for college cannot be overstated. This is the place to go if you need remedial work in math or English. Louisiana State University charges between $20 and $550 per course.

Schools Offering Adult Continuing Education