By Alane Cunningham – Recently a friend retired after teaching for thirty two years.

I told her she wouldn’t know how to act when school started this fall.  Then I confided that as long as I have been out of school, I still have a special feeling and a little envy when I see the kids going back to school.

Just because you are retired, it doesn’t mean you stop learning, or that you lose the desire to learn new things.  Actually it becomes more fun because you get to decide what you want to study.  And going back to school, at any age, is an exhilarating experience.

Over half a million seniors are heading back to the college classrooms to audit classes of their choice.   Several states (Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and Virginia) have tuition waivers or sometimes a small fee for seniors heading back to class.  Wow, what a way to spend our time, learning new things and in the company of younger people.  The college experience does not have to end in your twenty’s as the so called college of lifetime learning is always open.

There are some rules of etiquette that have emerged as a result of this phenomenon.  Some universities allow no more than five students to audit a class, or at Princeton University, no more than 10% of the class can be made up of seniors.  This is a reasonable requirement and allows the class to operate in a normal fashion oriented toward the younger students who will secure our future.

It is a a somewhat delicate situation when one student audits a class, while at the same time sitting next to someone who may have taken out a student loan to pursue their education.  Many professors ask that the auditors not ask questions during class, or volunteer information about their life experiences.  Most seniors report that others in the class accept them, but they do need to keep their time infringements in check and perhaps limit their own questions and experiences.  After all, part of the learning experience for younger people is discovering things for themselves and not being led by older and perhaps wiser people.

For those not wanting to commute to class or not willing to interact with younger students,  there is another way to satisfy one’s quest for knowledge.  There are now courses available on DVD that feature the best professors from prestigious universities who deliver lectures on various topics.  So, if philosophy was not your area of interest when you were in college, but you have always wished you knew more about Free Will and Determination, now you can,  in the comfort of your own home.

I have friends who are now renting these  lecture series instead of Netflix films.  They are learning about art appreciation and exploring historical events that interest them.  It is fun to have a lecture series with a professor you would never have had a chance to listen to and admire.
So, as summer fades and you see kids heading back to school, you can be one of them  Contact your local college or university about auditing a class, or explore companies that specialize in teaching.  Life is more fun when you keep learning.

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About Alane Cunningham

Alane is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. She retired from the University of Michigan after 27 years. She currently lives in Florida in a small beachside community with her husband. She navigates retirement with human nature observations realizing everyone must find their own way to happiness through this passage of life.


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Follow Us Online MagazineContemporary Retirement50+ Anti-Aging Tips and Tricks,College,School and EducationBy Alane Cunningham - Recently a friend retired after teaching for thirty two years. I told her she wouldn't know how to act when school started this fall.  Then I confided that as long as I have been out of school, I still have a special...Parenting Support | Family Fun Activities for Kids