Retirement is a time filled with possibilities. After years of toiling away in a daily routine, you finally have an abundance of free time — you can go anywhere, do anything, and embark on all the adventures you never had time to experience before.
For an increasing number of seniors, this new-found free time isn’t being spent volunteering, hanging around the golf course or at book clubs. Instead, you can satisfy your ever-curious side by sharpening up your pencils, charging up your laptop and heading back to college.
This phenomenon, known as lifelong learning, allows you to go back to school and learn all of the things they never had time to learn before. At this point in your life, you’ve most likely have already had a successful career with decades of experience in your fields, but lifelong learning allows you to explore other interests.
For instance, if you’re a recently retired engineer, but have an interest in art, lifelong learning is the perfect way to learn more and capitalize on your passions.
So, how does it actually work? Are you going to have to take out a bunch of student loans just to learn a little more about a few of your part-time hobbies and interests? Not at all. There are senior-friendly ways to get a college education without breaking the bank.
If you’re serious about getting a four-year degree, many schools offer tuition assistance or waivers for students over 55. In particular, all public universities in Texas and California offer free tuition, and plenty of other states offer discounts. Find your local university, and inquire as to whether they offer any tuition assistance, or look if you’re looking for a very specific type of degree, look into online and distance learning programs.
If you’re just looking to keep your brain active and learn a few new interesting things and aren’t seeking a degree, there are also plenty of senior-centric education programs at universities. Most universities have weekly classes and programs specifically designed to educate seniors on a variety of different topics. Some of these classes are for seniors only, so if you’re looking to learn within a group of your peers, these type of programs may be a good fit for you.
Whether you’re looking for a full-time bachelor’s degree program or just a low-key way to continue learning, going back to school is an excellent way to stay mentally sharp and discover more about your lifelong interests. Be sure to research the types of programs near you, and feel free to provide any advice in the comments below.