How To

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein


It was the 1988 Olympics, and I couldn’t watch Brian Boitano skate because I had a book report due for Mrs. Schimmels 6th grade class. In 1993, I missed the final episode of Cheers because I had a term paper due for Mrs. Hirshfeld’s 11th grade English class. Upon such instances, I longed for a homework-free life. With each anxiety attack I’d get upon opening up a report card, I’d vow never to willingly put myself through the torture that is school. And yet here I am, a Bachelors and Masters degree later, perusing course catalogs and willingly shelling out big bucks to expand my DVR-infested mind with actual, tangible, worthwhile…knowledge. And as luck would have it, New York City can be considered perhaps the largest school in the world. Here are a few places to go when you’re itching for that gold star:

1 – As they sing in Avenue Q – “I wish I could go back to college”. NYU Adult Education classes, conveniently offered in the evening and weekends for the most part, to accommodate those of us with day jobs, are great for people looking for a career change. From Anthropology to Art Appraisal to photography, NYU can help round out your set of career skills or simply allow you to enjoy a favorite pastime a bit more deeply.

Columbia Continuing Education classes have you intermingling with degree candidates in classes ranging from Drama to Sociology.

Hunter College, located conveniently at 68th and Lexington, offers countless classes for both non-matriculated students and degree students. If you’re a New York State resident, credits are extremely affordable, especially if you’re trying to nail down some prerequisites for graduate school.

2 – So clowns freak you out, but that’s no reason to avoid the trapeze! You don’t even have to wait for the summer – take classes under their heated tent. Check out

3 – You don’t have to be Jewish! The National Jewish Outreach Programs include free Hebrew classes for those wanting to brush up on the language, or those wanting to be more familiar with reading prayers during synagogue services. Just put in your zip code for a location near you.

The JCC (76th and Amsterdam), the 92nd St Y (Lexington Avenue) and Makor (67th and CPW) offer reasonably priced classes, lectures, performance opportunities and private lessons for all ages and interests. Makor caters to the 20’s and 30’s demographic and if you have a minute before your Thursday evening class, you can check out the Singles events hosted in their café. The 92nd Street Y and JCC are geared towards older adults, families and young children but depending on which location is convenient for you, you can find something you’ll enjoy at any one of the three facilities including fitness centers, writing seminars and dance classes.

4 – Tired of take-out? Learn to bake, cook, fry and fillet at the Culinary Institute and you’ll make him a meal he’ll never forget!

5 – Interested in honing your writing skills? The reputable Gotham Writers’ Workshop is known for offering specialized classes like writing for fiction, playwrtiting, short story writing and TV writing. Check out their website some free classes, seminars and workshops.

Media Bistro is perfect for the young, hip and experienced writer…Their classes, workshops and industry insights (not to mention job listings) make it a great place to network, learn and get your media career on the right track.

They also offer opportunities to volunteer to attend free classes/lectures.

6 – Craigslist has a whole section devoted to classes. Just type the keywords of what you’re looking for in a class and there are numerous listings at all price points. Just be sure to check out references since a lot of the instructors advertising are freelancing and not affiliated with an accredited school.

7 – Don’t forget the classes offered at your gym. New York Sports Club, for instance, can get you in shape for your wedding, get you on the pilates bandwagon and teach you how to burn calories while kicking some ass!

There is literally no limit to the amount of classes offered in this great city of New York. From knitting to pole dancing, from pottery to philosophy to poker, if there’s a skill to learn, a degree to be had, or a talent to hone, there’s a class out there for you.

Originally published March 2006



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