Friday, July 8, 2011

Lifetime Learning - Going Back To School In Retirement (Or any Time)

I'm a person of many (perhaps too many) interests.  This is nothing that isn't pretty well known, and I've shared that with the folks that read this blog.  In truth, I've never known what I wanted to "do" when I grew up. 

The end result is that while I have college attendance under my belt, I have nothing close to a degree.  Neither did my husband, who managed to each upper management levels in the federal government. In my case, I have two years of college here (when my major was "liberal arts"), a semester there (when I studied hospital administration) and lots of single courses. The Army trained me to be an LPN, a career which I dropped as soon as I left.  I'm fortunate that my darling husband's salary allowed me, for the most part, to take temporary and "mommy track" jobs in whatever area my interest lay at the time.

I enjoy learning for learning's sake. I enjoy going to school. In another life I might have been a professional student.  I also have been unemployed in any field since my husband became ill.  Many of the positions I held earlier, I would not qualify for these days (standing in one place is out, as is getting down on the floor with little people). 

All this is to say that in the fall I will be returning to college and pursuing a degree in non profit administrating. For me, going back to school fills more than one need/desire.  It trains me for another career, one in which I am interested am qualified for. It also allows me to expand my interests and learn more (I have enough credits that any degree program will allow for some "fun" electives). It allows me to meet and interact with lots of people.

I'm not the only one return to school.  Lots of adults, be they retirees or boomers, are returning to education for many reasons. The options for retirees are unlimited-we can take a course in almost anything these days. Not only that, but we  have so many choices as to how we learn.  We can sit in our PJ's and study online, we can go to regular college classes, we can participate in programs specifically directed to us.  We can even travel and and learn.

Learning gives us a new perspective, improves are quality of life, and keeps us "young" for lack of a better phrase.

Going back to school is not necessarily expensive.  I can take up to three quarters of my degree requirements at the local community college, where tuition and books are about six hundred dollars. In my case I've qualified for a Pell grant, but depending on your finances, you may not need to.  Many colleges have discounts for seniors, and scholarships for seniors abound. Local "Open U" classes have nominal fees.

One may go back to school to meet new people, learn new things, have new experiences, to keep young, or to retool to prepare for a new job.  In this economy, entire job specialties vanish. My plan is to get a new skill set, but there are classes from learning how to improve your resume, to how to start a small business, to one and two year certificate program. My son, who is neither a boomer nor a retiree, is returning to get a degree in computer support, on the premise that you cannot have too many skills (especially when you're unemployed).

The numbers of seniors going to school has increased by over fifty percent since the early 1990s.  Continuing education and adult education classes are big business and the trend just seems to be going.  I'm jumping into this one with both feet.

Have you considered taking a course?  For fun, for work, or any other reason?


  1. I've considered it off and on. I work shift though so now it's impossible unless I take something online or something I can take vacation a few times for. I dont' know what I'd take but back when I worked straight evening shift I would take a couple of classes every spring at the local community college just for the fun of it - couple semesters of spanish, personal finance, sociology, psychology, creative writing(ended up hating this as the teacher decided not to teach but to have us just write and share and let her rip everything to shreds). The last course I took there was biology when I was considering looking into taking occupational therapy or physical therapy but we switched to a rotating 12 hour shift. I would like go back full time but impossible with having to work and keep insurance. I could swing it if my work wasn't this shift and my job would reimburse me. So far all I've found is a MBA program that I have zilch interest in.

    I don't think it's ever too late to learn. If I could do these jobs I would consider psychology/counseling or teaching but I dont' relish dealing with today's school system.

    good for you for finding something of interest!


  2. I had no idea that so many of us boomers were going back to school. That's interesting.

    Barb, I think you should definitely go for it, especially since you have the financial part covered. That's the hardest for many people.

    Me, I've spent soooo much time in school. And I loved it. Despite my degrees and certificates, though, things keep changing and now I find myself doing work - teaching ESL - that I really have little academic preparation for! I've been doing really well at it, but non-profits are having a hard go of it, and my fall schedule will be half what it was... ditto the income, unfortunately. I really just don't want to go back to school... again... to get a teaching credential!

    I like your blog, by the way. A very pretty look. And more importantly, some really nice, real-world, real-person ideas. Keep it up. You've given me a few things to think about!

  3. As a teacher I was required to go to University to stay current. I hope never to have to attend another graded class. I find the graduate level classes on line to be empty of substance.

    I wish our community college had art and cooking classes. I don't want to pay University fees ($800 a course), but would like to learn some basics in areas that I missed by taking the technical stuff.

    Nice article. Good luck in your new adventure!


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