How Seniors Can Benefit by Returning to School

With people staying in the workforce longer than ever before, concerns around the ability for the older members of society to adapt to new technologies, find work, and even maintain their mental capacities are increasing. In fact, the topic was formally brought up during the White House Conference on Aging in 1961.

A lot has changed since the 1960s, especially the need for job applicants to hold a college degree.

If you are entering your golden years, or you know someone that is, and getting back into the job market is a priority, then this post may be for you! 

Below is a look at some suggestions to help get your thinking about the different paths to getting a degree, and how it may benefit your life. If you need any more motivation, take a look at Nola Ochs, who graduated from college at the age of 95! 

Education for Older Americans 

Seeking education at an older age is one way for seniors to “keep up” with a world that is fast changing around them. But getting an education isn’t always easy.

There are many barriers that a senior may need to overcome. For example, interior barriers can include things like low energy levels or a lack of self-confidence. After all, sitting among students a fraction of your age may leave you feeling out of place. There are external barriers, too, such as living in a rural area without easy access to a learning center; financial restrictions; or difficulty using a computer, which can be a minimum requirement for basic courses.

If any of these are a concern for you, help may be available from outside resources.

The first step is to look around your local area for a community college, university, or accredited adult education program. Some adult programs are run out of libraries, churches, or even local public and private schools. These programs may also offer waivers for seniors, meaning that you won’t need SAT scores, a GED, or even a need to complete an entrance essay. Each program may have different requirements and class size restrictions, so make sure to contact the program coordinator prior to applying. 

You may also use grants to offset costs or make learning free if you meet specific financial thresholds. The IRA even offers lifetime tax deductions up to $10,000 for higher education purposes.

If you don’t live in an area without these programs, online courses may still be an option. These are increasingly popular for people of all ages, and opens the door for more people to take advantage of learning opportunities from home. If you go this route, you will need a computer and an internet connection. If you have neither of these, it may be a good idea to get in touch with family, friends, or a close-by neighbor who can help you find and set up a computer in your home. 

As mentioned above, you may find that there are free computer learning classes in your area. Contacting local libraries, churches, and schools is a great way to find out more.

Once you have a computer and internet, you may also think about asking someone to show you how to use online resources like Udemy and Youtube. These video-based and online learning websites can be a great resource for learning the basics, and much more! 

From there, you should be able to move onto starting online classes.

Benefits of Education

Once you begin your education, you may find that it helps you in a number of ways:

  1. Keeps you competitive – If you aren’t yet retired, or you are facing retirement because your job is being eliminated, you may find that combining your existing work experience with a new degree makes you more desirable so you can keep working and potentially make more money.
  2. Chance to learn something new – Keeping the mind sharp is important during aging, but after leaving the workforce, some people feel unimportant. Education can offer a new challenge that not only helps to keep you active, but may also introduce you to new interests and hobbies.
  3. A chance to socialize – Going back to school, especially when in classrooms with people around the same age, you have the opportunity to start friendships and build important social support structures.

Each person will get something different from their education. Whether you are going to learn a new skill, or if you are wanting to start a business, seeking an education is a great way to improve your personal life at any age.