They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Whether this is true or not can be debated, but it definitely doesn’t extend to people. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to learn something new — and in fact, learning something new helps preserve mental health. If you’ve fostered a lifelong love of learning, never finished your degree, or simply have extra time on your hands, going back to school can be a great option.
Pro: Surround yourself with others
It’s no secret retirement can be lonely, especially if you’ve found yourself with nothing but a TV to keep you company. School is a bustling, exciting place to be. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, and you’ll learn much more than just the curriculum. Heck, you might even be able to decipher your younger family member’s slang.
Con: You’re no spring chicken
Sure, you’re energetic and excited to learn. But pulling an all-nighter to study isn’t exactly your idea of a quiet night in. It can be tough to work with groups of young people who want to wait until the last minute for assignments, who often stay up all night texting back and forth.
Pro: You’ll be valued for your wisdom
If you choose to take a class in a traditional college setting, let’s just say you’re much more mature than most other classmates. While there are options to take classes with other people your age group, it’s nice to be the most experienced person in the room. By retirement, you know the value of hard work, consistency, and making smart choices. Your classmates may go to you for advice. Just make sure you defer any academic questions to the professor, out of respect.
Con: It’s expensive
College costs have skyrocketed over the years. While you’ve spent your time in the workforce earning money to save for retirement, college kids have been graduating with mountains of debt. Many of them don’t think they’ll ever have enough money to retire. Depending on your financial status, going back to school may be a costly purchase. However, since you’re not racing to finish your degree and get out in the workforce, you can take it slow with one or two classes at a time. Some seniors also turn to life settlements to help fund further education.
Pro: Unique scholarship and grant opportunities
Older adults often assume that because they have a steady job or have already been through college that if they want to go back to school, they’ll have to pay for it out of their own pocket. Not so — being a nontraditional student puts you in a different bracket of opportunity. If you want to finish your Bachelor’s degree, Pell and Supplemental Education Opportunity grants can help fund the way. If you’re a woman, AAUW career development grants provide support for women who want to change careers or obtain higher education. Scholarship opportunities include:
- Globe University Senior Citizen Scholarships
- Wallace Community College’s Selma Senior Citizen Scholarship
- BPW Foundation Career Advancement Scholarship Program
- Marygrove College’s Senior Citizen Grant
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Most importantly, start planning for college today! Do you have questions about preparing for college? Please ask your questions in the comments section below.