Just because you are retired doesn’t mean you stop learning

Access to educational opportunities and training has increased over the years as the traditional barrier of having to go physically sit in a class has fallen, especially for seniors. Whether you are an older adult changing careers, or a retiree looking to keep mentally sharp and learn new skills, there are endless educational opportunities available online, some with a cost but many available for free. There are many resources available for seniors interested in educational opportunities, and in this article, we will look at some of the options available.

Traditional Colleges

Whether you have a college degree or not, are looking to get a degree, or just take a few courses, almost every state has at least one public higher education institution that provides either a reduced fee or free educational opportunities for older adults. Some of these courses are available online, and some are traditional classroom-style courses. These courses offered by higher learning institutions are popular as the classes are not usually attended by seniors but provide an opportunity to learn alongside other students of varying ages. If you are looking for or low-cost college courses in your state, there is a list of them available here.

Online training courses

If you are looking to update your skills or learn a new skill, there are many training courses available online for you to use. Some do have a cost, but many are free. You can find training on everything from how to use Facebook to Gardening to learning how to computer code. There is truly something for everyone. 

The other great thing about internet-based training is that you can almost always find a training program that teaches in the way you like to learn. If you prefer to read and absorb the material, you can find a training program that teaches using ebooks or other text-based learning. If you are a more visual or interactive learner, there are endless video or even live webcast opportunities for you to learn. Many of these are on-demand, so you can start and stop at your convenience. 

Finding an online training course on the topic you are interested in can be a simple as going to Google and searching for “Free Training for Microsoft Excel.” You will find many options from a long list of organizations and people offering training on that subject. If you are looking for a list of some of the top online courses available for seniors in a wide variety of categories, you can check out this list put together by Online Course Report.

Continuing Education For Adults

Continuing education courses are designed to develop your skills and knowledge in a specific area, usually related to a particular career. These courses are offered to adults by various educational providers from local schools and colleges to trade groups and even companies in certain fields. Some professions require or encourage Continuing Education classes to gain and maintain a license or certification. For example, teachers, insurance agents, pharmacists, engineers, and accountants. 

The beauty of continuing education courses is you don’t have to be a professional in that industry to take them; they are available to anyone in most cases. Some classes have fees associated with them, but many have no cost. This is usually true if you are just taking them to learn and are not concerned with filing them with the state like those who have to take a certain number of classes to maintain a license or certification, as there are usually fees associated with doing so this.

Other Educational Opportunities for Senior Citizens

If you’re interested in gaining a new skill, you may be pleasantly surprised to find there are many free educational options offered by community-based organizations such as libraries, senior centers, and others. While you may not consider yourself a senior citizen, many of these programs are available to those 50 and older. Many of these programs are offered at no cost, or if there are costs associated, there are often grants or scholarships available. In many cases, these are provided to individual seniors based on specific income, skill, or other criteria. In some other cases, the organizations offering services may receive grant money to pay for training programs that they make available to the general senior population at no cost. There are places to look if you want to get some free senior education. Below are some resources that may be available in your local area.

  • Area Agency on Aging
    Area Agency on Aging organizations (AAA) can be found throughout the United States. AAAs offer a wide variety of programs, including:
    • Training and educational opportunities
    • Transportation opportunities
    • Volunteer opportunities

In many communities, the AAA has senior centers that offer a wide variety of classes for everything from crafts to computer training. The programs available locally are determined by the local AAA to meet their communities’ specific needs. You can find your local AAA on the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging website.

  • AARP SCSEP Training
    The AARP offers free job training to low-income individuals age 55 years and over through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). This free senior citizen education program is designed to help mature individuals acquire job-related skills needed to enter or re-enter the workforce. You can apply for programs available in your local area on the AARP Foundation website
  • Local Libraries
    Your local library may offer free personal and professional courses. Contact your local library or check their website for a calendar of events. In most cases, all you need to participate is a library card.

Customized Educational Opportunities for Retirees

If you are a retiree and are looking for educational opportunities, whether for a job, part-time job, starting your own business, or just keeping your mind sharp, you can customize and build your own training schedule around your schedule and meet your specific needs. If in-person learning is what you are looking for, there are many opportunities to find classes you can attend. However, you are more likely to incur a cost for training if delivered in person, but there are free and low-cost options available too. If online training is more your style, there are endless opportunities and topics available to you. 

Once you have decided on the kind of educational classes or training, you want you can find courses that work with your schedule or, for more flexibility, find those available online and on-demand so you can learn at your own pace in your own time.

The older adult population is steadily growing as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Many seniors seek lifelong learning opportunities and continuing education, both for personal enrichment and to extend their careers. Lifelong learning programs have many beneficial outcomes, including improved cognitive and social engagement, which is essential for older adults.

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