Blog from The Center

Begin Your Adult Education Journey and How to Set Academic Goals

By: Brandy Allen, Assistant Vice President of Clinical Services and Programs St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children, Dorchester, MA

It has been recognized that all throughout our lives education plays a key role. Acquiring education allows you too grow in numerous areas and navigate various avenues along the journey of life. In this article, we will be focusing on not only the importance of education, but also the importance of developing academic goals that will ensure that you identify the right education programs for you.

Given that St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children strives to be a leader in the world of Adult Education, this article will more specifically discuss the benefits of and how to access Adult Education in the Boston, MA area

Learn more about the women and children St.Mary’s Center serves in Boston.

Why setting academic goals is important.

While most people are familiar with the traditional educational system of grade school, for some, unexpected or unwanted circumstances have prevented them from following the traditional educational track. Fortunately, many avenues are available for people to receive an education despite their life circumstances.

That’s where Adult Education comes in. According to the U.S. Department of Education, adult education has been around since the mid 1960’s. Adult education continues to be a primary arena to ensure individuals are able to acquire the knowledge and tools they need to contribute to a productive workforce and gain economic stability. This allows these individuals to establish a stable, worthwhile quality of life for themselves. 

 Regardless of which educational track one ultimately follows, it is undeniable that education is extremely important.  A good education can have a significant impact on the quality of your life. A LinkedIn article “10 Reasons Why Education is Extremely Important” explains this further.

 So, how do you go about acquiring an education successfully no matter what track you’re on?

One of the most important steps to take is to set academic goals. Setting academic goals allows you to establish a clear, concrete outline/plan of how you wish to fulfill the desired outcome of acquiring an education.

At St. Mary’s Workforce Development & Learning Resource Center, the team is highly trained in working with individuals to set long-term academic goals. This allows participants the help they need regardless of where they are on their journey. Academic goals can also help you stay on track, by continuously assessing what resources and supports you may need to ensure you succeed.  

How to Set Academic Goals.

There are three components to consider when creating academic goals. They are as follow:

1. Purpose of Education- Why am I looking to get an education?

Assess and decide how you would benefit from having an education. For example, are you looking for more knowledge, skills, money, advancement, stability, or better quality of life?

2. Desired knowledge – What is the key information I need to know? What am I excited/passionate in learning about?

Identify what knowledge and skills you want or need to acquire (HISET/GED, Vocational, Secondary education) to begin your adult education journey.

3. Commitment- Can I stay the Course?

Here are some things to help you determine your commitment and assure that you stay on course.

  • Determine a realistic timeline to accomplish your academic goals. Base this timeline upon your current circumstances. Is it three-months, one-year, four-years, etc? What prior commitments do you have that you need to take into account? This will also help you uncover which style of program is ideal for your lifestyle (i.e. rigid vs. flexible, working hours, day, evening or weekend classes).
  • Determine what your expectations are for yourself and the prospective program’s expectations are for students. Are they in alignment with each other?
  • Assess/Acknowledge you learning style. Ask yourself  “do I learn by seeing, hearing, touching, reading or writing?” Independent learners prefer to self-facilitate. Dependent Learners prefer more supportive facilitation from knowledgeable instructors. For more information on different learning styles read Tejeda’s Tots article: Teaching Different Learning Styles.
  • Determine the most ideal way to receive your education (especially during this time of COVID-19) – Is it more beneficial for you to be in person in a classroom setting, online/virtual, local or commute?

Resources to help you get started on your adult educational journey.

By now you should have a good understanding of why education and setting academic goals is important. You may also be reading this because life has happened and you’re trying to determine how to take the next steps toward your education on a non-traditional track.

Figuring how to find the best adult education program can seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. There are many to choose from in the Boston, MA area.

Here are a few resources to help you get started:

St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children

Bunker Hill Community College (Partners w/St. Marys)

Adult and Community Learning Services

Boston Public Schools

St. Mary’s Diamonds of Dorchester Virtual Gala on October 27th, 2020 raises funds to supports the Adult Resource Learning Program and Women at Work program. St.Mary’s Center has adapted these programs to fit a virtual learning program that has allowed the women and children St.Mary’s serves to continue their educational journey during the Pandemic.

Watch the trailer below to learn more about the Diamonds of Dorchester Virtual Gala and how you can register for this unique virtual event.

More About St. Mary’s Adult Education Learning Programs

St. Mary’s offers a comprehensive educational program that is customized to meet the needs of the learners in our residential setting and around the Boston community. St.Mary’s robust programmatic offerings helps the learners succeed in traditional classroom settings or a distance-learning model.

Our holistic/learning model is designed to, not only, educate, but to develop the skills learners needed to recognize barriers and how to overcome them. 

The Workforce Development & Learning Resource Center, formally known as the Department of Education and Employment, has evolved from a singular education and skills training program to a more robust comprehensive training model with training options in several areas. Prospective students have various options to choose from as they navigate their career pathways.

From Hiset, IT, Administrative Support, and a forthcoming Phlebotomy Training Program, the program engages highly motivated individuals to get them trained quickly and employed in living-wage jobs. The program utilizes a wealth of platforms and tools for various types of learners.

These platforms include:


Kahn Academy

Townsend Press

Penn Foster

As you can see, St. Mary’s Center has a stand out program designed to meet the needs of many. What’s most important is that you are following your academic goals and are following the path that will ensure your educational success.

I invite you to share this article and spread the word about all the benefits St. Mary’s Workforce Development and Learning Resource Center has to offer.

Also, we would love your support/participation in our annual fundraiser Diamonds of Dorchester Gala.

Click the banner to learn more.

About Brandy Allen

In October 2018, Brandy Allen was promoted to assistant vice president of clinical services and programs. A licensed clinical independent social worker and proven leader, Ms. Allen provides clinical oversight and supervision to the agency’s eight programs and services including design, integration, coordination, and implementation. She also works to ensure St. Mary’s Center programming remains trauma-informed. Most recently, she served as program director of St. Mary’s Center’s education and employment programs starting in January of 2018. Previously, Ms. Allen was the director of vocational program at the Compass School of Boston in Dorchester where she worked with students ages 14-22 with intellectual, social, emotional, and behavioral disabilities acquire life skills and fulfill their academic goals. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Boston Day and Evening School. Ms. Allen received her Master of Social Work from Boston University School of Social Work, and she earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree from Howard University School of Education.

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