Pima Community College provides non-credit courses in a variety of subjects for Southern Arizonans looking to further their learning, without worry about grades.

The college offers more than 700 classes throughout the year to people of all ages, according to Director of Continuing Education Maggie Romance.

Classes last at the most six weeks and cost between $50 and $600. The price is determined by the location of the classes, which are taught online or in person at venues around Southern Arizona.

"We upgrade the skill levels of people that are currently working; we give people skills and knowledge to help them find jobs that they're currently interested in; and we introduce children to science, technology, engineering, arts and math," Romance said.

Last year 3,100 students, ages 5 to their early 90s, enrolled in non-credit classes, she said. Classes are designed so that they minimize lectures and increase participation in activities and discussions. The classes are taught by instructors with field experience in their subjects.

Class topics fall under the categories of adventure, daily living and professional education, among others. Class titles include Motorcycle Rider Education, Patagonia Mines and Ghost Towns and Video Game Making for kids 9 to 12.

The most popular are language classes and computer-software tutorials, according to Romance.

Pima Community College offers non-credit courses in Arabic, Spanish, Italian, French and German and software classes in Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop, among other programs.

"In our environment, we have a class of 20 to 30 people that are sitting in a classroom looking at each other with a person who is knowledgeable, not just from the books, but they have lived the experience," Romance said.

"The growth that happens in these discussion groups among all people is very different from having someone with only academic knowledge."

Courses are offered to fit the needs of the community, according to Assistant Program Coordinator in Continuing Education Noel Hensley.

"Most people living in or visiting Pima County want to learn, do and interact," she said in an email.

"Non-credit learning provides quality instruction, unique topics, places to see, ideas to discuss without testing, without admission to the college, and they are open to everyone."

Hensley is in charge of coordinating Pima for Kids and Teen Scene Programs. She also has been teaching classes for the past four years, including Legos, Little Detectives and Center Stage for young singers.

"Our kids and teen classes give participants the opportunity to dive into ideas that may not be explored in school," Hensley said.

Hensley and Romance hope to continue to grow the program, which began in the late 1970s - Romance expects a 15 percent enrollment growth during the next fiscal year.

Find out more

For more information about Pima Community College's non-credit classes, call 206-6579 or go to pima.edu/continuinged online.

Justin Sayers is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact him at 573-4117 or starapprentice@azstarnet.com