Living to Learn: A Continuing Education Guide For Seniors

Learning is a continuous process, and nobody is too old to learn. More and more seniors in America have gone back to school to gain new knowledge and skills, so that they can make the later years of their lives more interesting and fulfilling. While some of them attend schools just to enhance their knowledge, others study to pursue a new and more rewarding career. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, close to 3% of Americans between the ages of 50 to 70 are participating in continuing education.

Continuing education for seniors usually comes in the form of credit-granting courses in colleges and universities. These courses provide curriculums that are specifically designed for people who have passed the traditional undergraduate college age. They are catered to people who already have some form of education, and they do not include basic courses that test language skills and general knowledge. Some colleges and universities also conduct evening classes for seniors who cannot attend regular classes because of their work commitments. Other forms of continuing education that are available include non-degree career training, personal enrichment courses, workshops, seminars, and self-directed learning, which can be online learning, club activities, personal research, and experiential learning.

With so much information available on the Internet, it is very easy for seniors to find a continuing education program that suits their learning needs. Many colleges and universities display detailed information about their continuing education programs in their websites, and they also provide clear enrollment instructions. Those who wish to enroll in distance learning can find many online education programs that are specifically designed for seniors, and they can submit their applications online.

Continuing education also requires considerable investment, and some seniors have to look for ways to get the necessary funds to support their education. The most common way for seniors to secure funds for their education is to get loans from banks and financial institutions or their colleges and universities. Such loans can help them pay all their tuition fees as well as their living expenses, but they have to pay a certain amount of interest. The United States government also offers subsidized and unsubsidized loans to Americans who wish to pursue continuing education, and these loans are called the Federal Stafford Loans and the Federal Perkins Loans. Other popular loans for continuing students include the Sallie Mae Continuing Education Loan and the TERI Guaranteed Continuing Education Loan.

There are also grants that are available for seniors who have shown excellent academic performance. The government offers grants such as the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, Academic Competitiveness Grants, and the Federal Work Study and Part-Time Employment Award. Seniors who are still working can apply for partial or full funding from their employers if they intend to learn new skills that can benefit their companies.

For working seniors, continuing education can lead to better career opportunities and financial rewards. Those who are studying just to gain knowledge and academic certification will earn more respect from their friends and families, and they can inspire their children or grandchildren to pursue higher education. Continuing education is very beneficial for seniors, because it can rejuvenate their minds and bring new meaning to their lives. 

  • University of South Florida: Learn about the various programs that are offered by the University of South Florida’s continuing education department.
  • Emory University: Extensive information on the Center for Lifelong Learning in Emory University.
  • University of Utah: The continuing education department of the University of Utah offers close to 3,000 classes every year.
  • Senior Net: The ultimate online education site for seniors.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Wendy Goldman September 14, 2010 at 8:30 am

Respectfully, I suggest that your website use a beige or yellow background with larger black font. The contrast is glaring and makes it hard to read for more than a few minutes. However, the content is excellent and requires more time online to fully digest.

Thank you,
Wendy Goldman

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