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, 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 and are similar to typical adult education course, 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 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, the waiting lists for such classes can be quite lengthy.
Recommended Correspondence Schools
Asian Classics Institute offers an outstanding Buddhist studies program by correspondence that is 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 of which are 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. If you need remedial work in math or English, this is the place to go. Louisiana State University charges between $20 and $550 per course.
Schools Offering Adult Continuing Education
- American Community Corrections Institute
- American School
- Asian Classics Institute
- Brigham Young University (BYU)
- Citizen’s High School
- College Guild
- Hadley School for the Blind
- International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society
- Jim Sutton Institute of Guitar
- Joe Kubert World of Cartooning, LLC
- Louisiana State University
- Miracles Prisoner Ministry
- National Buddhist Prison Sangha
- Prisoner Assistance Scholastic Service (PASS)
- Rio Salado College
- Star Successful Training
- SYDA Foundation Prison Project