Looking For Options For Life Long Learning?
By Karen and Erica
One of the great things about having more time is that you have more time to learn. And of course you are motivated because you are smarter than when you were in college, and you know that learning is about as much fun as you can have. Well, almost.
What you may not know is that the opportunities are legion. Many are free or very low cost. Here are a few ideas—assuming you don’t want to go ahead and get a degree in a subject you always wanted to master, which would be awesome.
First, think about whether you want to learn in the company of other people, or online.
If you want to be with people, do you want to be with other retired people, or with college kids? Many schools permit you to audit undergraduate, and even graduate, courses, for free or for very small fees. You won’t get credit, but you will learn a lot, and meet those Gen Xers and Zers you’ve been wondering about. More importantly, they will get to meet you!
If you’d just as soon meet other people like you, many universities and colleges have courses specifically designed for retired people. In New York, check out the Institute for Retired Professionals at the New School. In Boston you can find the Harvard Program for Retired Professionals. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute makes grants to support lifelong learning at over one hundred institutions around the country, including Northwestern in Chicago, and sports the delightful motto “Curiosity Never Retires.” There are way too many others to list here.
Regardless of the type of environment you choose, one huge benefit of affiliation with a college or university is that you will hear about speakers and other events sponsored by the institution, and you can probably use its libraries and other facilities. If you are enrolled full time you can stay in a dorm. For better or worse. Again, that would be a great experience for the younger students.
But maybe you would prefer to learn online.
Look at MOOCs, massive open online courses, an opportunity we never imagined when we started out. The options here are incredible. If you want to take courses like those taught in college, browse Coursera, which partners with Stanford, Duke, Penn and many others, and EdX, founded by Harvard and MIT. Both retain professors at the country’s top educational institutions to teach subjects in which they are the top experts. You can study just about anything. For a fee, you can get a certificate, too, but if you don’t need one at least some courses are free.
If pure academics is not your thing, other gems await. Masterclass is pretty special. Its motto is “Learn from the Best,” and they mean it. Carlos Santana will teach you to play the guitar. Annie Liebovitz photography. Paul Krugman economics. Stephen Curry ball handling. Alice Waters cooking. Shonda Rimes, writing for TV. You get the idea. Masterclass is not free, but for $180/year the world is at your feet.
There are lots of other experiential things to learn, too—design, flying, pizza making. We’ll be back with some ideas about those. And we would be pleased to hear what you have learned, and how.