One way to boost our chances of a satisfying retirement is to consider continuing our education. Lifelong learning is a noble pursuit that will keep you engaged and challenged during your retirement years. Here’s why lifelong learning is beneficial for seniors:
1. We get to pick the topics we want to learn. In retirement, our educational choices are no longer dictated by the requirements to complete a degree. Now is the time to pursue those off-the-beaten-path areas that truly spark our interest. For example, I would love to learn more about reptiles, gold rush history, how to write a novel, and how to play the guitar. The beauty is that what I decide to learn is my personal choice.
2. We have the time. I think one of the biggest challenges of retirement will be how to stay busy during all of the free time we inherit. Lifelong learning fills those potentially empty hours with interesting and engaging challenges. And at the end of the day our newly found knowledge is something we can be proud of having spent our time on.
3. Learning keeps us sharp. For retirees who no longer receive the stimulation that comes with a job and its challenges, it is easy to slow down and lose our edge. I found that within 18 months of my retirement test drive I did not feel as sharp when speaking with others. Learning and studying keeps the mind engaged and our thinking clear. Plus, we inevitably learn some interesting tidbits to share at social events.
4. Learning keeps us socially engaged. While we were in school as younger people, most of our circle of friends came from classmates and those we interacted with in the school environment. Going back to school as retirees can open new channels of interaction and introduce us to new friends inside and outside of the classroom.
Here is where you can find details on lifelong learning near you:
- USA.gov provides links to adult education options.
- Seniorresource.com has a state-by-state listing of free or low-cost educational opportunities for seniors.
- Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are located on 116 college and university campuses and offer non-credit courses for those age 50 and older.
- Many states offer tuition waivers to residents above a certain age at state-funded institutions such as the Over 60 Program at California State University East Bay.
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.