Many college students are eagerly anticipating a well-deserved Spring break from classes but as winter slowly fades away, older adults nearing or in retirement may be seriously considering going back to school, and they aren’t alone.
Returning to school after retiring from work or raising a family is not uncommon for older adults who always wanted to finish or advance their degree, learn a new skill or create employment opportunities to help fund an increasingly longer retirement. Going back to school can also open pathways for volunteer work.
But being a lifelong learner has other benefits as well and older adults who pursue an education later in life are more socially connected, and not only with their peers, but with students of all ages. Staying current on the lifestyle, political views and culture of a younger generation may also help seniors connect better with their children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.
Learning a new skill, whether it’s photography or financial planning, is also good for the aging brain. Researchers at York University in Toronto have found a significant link between learning a second language and delaying the onset of dementia. Lifelong learning is believed to slow cognitive aging and stimulate new brain growth.
And in Canada, several universities will waive some or all of your tuition if you are a citizen or permanent resident over the age of 60. Not only do older retirees have the time to pursue studies without the responsibilities of a young family or career building, but without the financial constraints, it may a bucket list item worth pursuing.
College campuses in Florida, California, Texas and Illinois also offer free or reduced tuition for seniors over 60 returning to school to start or complete a degree. According to the American Association for Retired Persons, the number of graduate and post graduate students between the ages of 50 and 64 has been climbing steadily since 2007.
If you have been toying with the idea of returning to school, it really is never too late, and the journey could take you places you never imagined. With a little research, you may even find that going back to the books won’t break the bank and may offer some excited and unexpected rewards.