Many of us remember our school days fondly- whether for time in the classroom, or football games and band concerts- these events brought us together with our fellow students. Instead of easing into a life of lunchtime strolls, knitting, fishing and napping, more seniors are taking advantage of the time they have during their golden years to take free classes for and earn degrees in subjects that they love or have interest in. This active lifestyle can help to maintain mental health, acuity, and even financial stability.
Did you know that a number of colleges and universities allow seniors to audit classes at no charge, and others offer pretty significant tuition discounts for classes taken for credit? More than 20 U.S. states have mandated tuition waivers and/or discounts for older adults at public colleges and universities. Some Ivy League schools offer opportunities, too.
Best part? No homework or testing means no stress but allows plenty of opportunity for social and cultural enrichment. Wellness and fitness classes can help invigorate your body and sense of self. Learn new skills, develop hidden artistic talent and broaden your horizons through travel and special events.
So how do you find these classes? In some cases, you'll have to meet age, residency, and income restrictions. But with a little research, you just might find yourself back in the classroom again. Here are some great places to look for free and low cost continuing education options:
- Tuition Waivers & Senior Scholarships- here is a link that may be helpful when searching in your state. Check also with your state's Department of Aging to see what is and is not covered in your area.
- Online courses- a quick Google search will produce all kinds of results, but you can also find more than 10,000 free online classes with Open Education Database. You can also find courses on sites like AARP, Senior Planet and more!
- Audit a course- Many colleges permit senior citizens to audit courses tuition-free. No credit is awarded for audited courses but you can work as much or as little as you want. Just fill out an application and pay an administrative fee.
- SeniorResource.com has pulled together a great list of Senior Education Opportunities for each state. You can find it here.