More and more retirees are going back to school – to keep their minds sharp and meet other like-minded people. Here’s the scoop on adult education!
Remember all those subjects that you wished you had time to explore during your busy pre-retirement years? Now is your chance! It turns out that back to school isn’t just for kids. Retirees are returning to school, too.
Increase your knowledge
Schools and universities have opened their classrooms to allow retirees to audit an enormous variety of courses. What’s more (unless you’re seeking a credential), fees for classes, presentations and courses are nominal – and sometimes free.
The number of subjects available is astonishing. Depending on the institution, you can sign up to learn a new language (or brush up on a rusty one), delve into a favorite period in history (the Renaissance? Ancient Rome?), explore the mysteries of the universe (with astronomy and astrophysics courses), the human psyche (like psychology behavioral science courses), the brain (neuroscience courses), or courses in literature, arts and culture…or computer studies, as any Senior Planet attendee can confirm.
The best part about auditing college level courses? The studies are challenging and meaningful without homework to do, tests to take, or papers to write.
Depending on the institution, the classes, courses and specialty presentations are on-site, virtual or hybrid.
Besides auditing classes at your local college or university, there are two special option specifically for seniors.
Senior Planet offers in-person classes in technology, exercise classes and lifestyle improvement at its walk-in centers:
- New York City, NY
- North Country, NY
- Montgomery County, MD
- Denver, CO
- San Antonio, TX
- Miami, FL (Coming soon)
In addition to these, you can find in-person Senior Planet programming at many other locations through our licensing program. Check the map here to see if there’s one near you. Is there a library or neighborhood center that might be interested in offering Senior Planet’s award-winning programming? Tell them about it and direct them here.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), is funded by the Bernard Osher Foundation; it offers programs, classes and courses through its affiliations at 125 universities nationwide for a small fee. (Find the list here.) Offerings vary by location – in the University of South Carolina’s Beaufort campus, (USCB),they span from cigar-making to Shakespeare, from calligraphy to gardening and more.
According to Kathleen Jordan, who serves in Curriculum Development for OLLI’s program at USCB, OLLI also offers seniors the chance to create their own presentations or short courses to teach them through OLLI.
While both Senior Planet and OLLI offers both in-person and online programming, there are other options for those seeking college level courses without going to a campus, or who may not wish to drive. Here are two examples:
- Coursera is a site for the online version of the Ivy League experience. There are almost 6,000 free college-level courses offered by top universities such as Stanford, Princeton, and Yale.
- Harvard offers free courses on a range of subjects. Class are up to three hours per week, for as few as a week to as many as 14 weeks and sometimes longer.
No-homework and no-exams for a modest fee – or free? No wonder adult education has become so popular that sometimes administrators must limit attendees. Browse the offerings and available to you and your interests, and prepare to have your knowledge – and your social contacts – expand!
Before you try Adult Education
Before you dive in, make the most of your experience by considering these factors:
–Consider your budget. Some courses, like Senior Planet’s – are free, but others require a fee to register and/or per class
–Consider your time. Can you commit to whatever timeframe and amount of time the class requires? Remember, if a class has a limited number of seats, your inconsistent attendance could deprive a spot for someone truly dedicated and interested.
–Practice safety always. The FTC has some information on fake diploma mills and phony certification programs here. And of course, exercise the same precautions meeting people in real life as you would online.
What’s your experience been with adult education? What classes did you take? Share your story in the comments!
Nona Aguilar is an award-winning writer of numerous magazine articles and two books. She has also edited four specialty business newsletter publications. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Family Circle and Cosmopolitan, and in The Business Owner.