We all know that continuing to learn new things is important. It keeps our minds agile and young, and learning actually helps us to improve our memories. Something that’s very important as we age. Do you want to know how you can learn new things? The answer is as varied as the people who want to do the learning. Let’s try something new and go back to school!
There are different ways that you can learn new things. Some people prefer interacting with a teacher and other students in person. Others prefer virtual options. And even within those two options, there are a variety of choices. This post was updated from an earlier post with additional information and corrected links.
Brick And Mortar Options
Do you want to walk into a building and interact with a teacher and other students? There are so many options for this. You can return to college to get a degree. Go to a Community College for a degree or a certificate course. Or you can look into whether your town offers continuing education opportunities.
If you are 60 or older (actual age depends on the state you live in,) you can take advantage of free tuition opportunities that are offered in many states. For instance, I used to live in Connecticut, and seniors who are 62 or older and want to take a degree-granting program at Central Connecticut State University or any state college can have their tuition and state university fees waived. There are still other costs and fees, but the biggest portion of the cost would be free. Find out what’s available in your state by reading this Penny Hoarder article or check out your local college website.
Many also offer free tuition based on age and availability in the class. They also offer audit options, and you can study for a degree program or a certificate program. Be sure to reach out to these schools to find out what they offer and when. For instance, some only offer free tuition for Spring and Fall classes, but not in Summer and Winter. It’s important that you understand what is being offered, so you don’t end up with surprising fees.
Other opportunities to check out where you can interact with students and teachers include:
Your local YMCA or Parks and Recreation Dept
The Y offers all kinds of opportunities. Not only can you and your kids learn to swim in a Y pool or work out in the gym and take fitness and yoga classes, but you can also sign up for other classes. A Y in Connecticut offered ballroom dancing, a screenwriter’s workshop, and even Paleo Cooking classes, among other things.
Town Continuing Education or Adult Education classes
First, if you didn’t finish High School, all town Adult Education programs offer a GED option so that you can get your high school degree. There are also ESL classes and citizenship classes. But there is so much more being offered in these programs. One Connecticut town offered Estate Planning, The History of Opera, Stained Glass Mosaics, and even language classes. Usually, these classes have a small fee ranging from $50 to $150 or more, depending on the supplies that are needed.
Offerings by your State
Many states offer job training or re-training opportunities. This is especially valuable if you are unemployed. Check out your local state government website to find out more information.
You can attend a class being offered by a business. For instance, if you wish to learn ballroom dancing there are many studios that you can go to. There are still Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire dance studios, as well as many new ones popping up thanks to Dancing With The Stars. If you want to get a license to operate a boat, then there are boating courses that are usually offered through your state or specialized schools that are accredited by the state. Want to learn how to paint or play an instrument? Local art studios and music stores can help you with these lessons.
Some students do better with one on one training. If that’s you, there are people who are willing to be your tutor or mentor to help you learn.
If learning with a group is not your thing and you have the self-discipline for an online environment, then there are a wide variety of opportunities. These opportunities increased during the pandemic and didn’t go away after the world re-opened. Like to learn in the comfort of your own home? Or do you prefer to travel a lot and can’t guarantee that you’ll always be in town to attend class? Then online learning is a great option for you.
One of my friends became a nurse through a hybrid program that offered both online and in-person classes. Some classes just needed to be hands-on. But when she was taking the online classes, she was doing it from the road while she traveled back and forth to kayak events.
Local and Distance Learning Colleges.
If you haven’t tried going back to school in the last decade or so, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that are available for students. Many of your local colleges offer online options. Plus, other universities across the United States offer online degrees. Phoenix University and Southern New Hampshire University are just two of these accredited options. The online environment is just as educational as the in-person classes. They attempt to simulate a classroom environment by using message boards and chats where questions can be asked, and students are expected to participate; it’s part of the grade.
Coursera gives you the opportunity to take college classes as well. The difference between this and studying at one university is that Coursera compiles some of the best classes from around the world. You can take a Philosophy and Science class from the University of Edinburgh or study Photography Basics and Beyond from the University of Michigan. Game Theory from Stamford University or learn Chinese from Peking University. There are different payment options, from taking just one class to signing up for a certificate or degree program. You’ll need to make sure the classes fit into your schedule. Some are offered at your own pace, others are actual classes set at specific times.
Udemy is one of the largest online learning places out there, with classes created by experts in their field. It has over 55,000 courses to choose from in diverse fields of study like IT, Lifestyle, Design, Marketing, and even Music. Some are certificate courses, but most are not. You pay by course, and the courses can be anywhere from free to $200.00 or more. But the great thing about Udemy is that they often hold sales where you can buy a course for $5.00 to 10.00. The best way to find out about their sales is to get their newsletter. With each course you buy, you get lifetime access without having to pay additional fees. You do have to buy each class individually, but you can take the classes whenever you like and even repeat them for further clarification.
Skillshare is similar to Udemy in that the classes are created by experts in their fields. Skillshare’s emphasis is on creative design, including courses in Adobe, Photography, and Watercoloring, as well as Blogging and Marketing classes. It’s a subscription service, so you either pay month to month (higher monthly cost) or yearly (lower monthly cost) and then you have access to all the classes that are available, and you can take them whenever you wish to. There is no schedule to fit into. I’m a Skillshare student.
MasterClass is a streaming platform where you can learn from some of the masters in their field. Want to learn filmmaking? Spike Lee, Ron Howard, or Martin Scorsese will be able to teach you. Want to take a writing class? You can pick from Judy Blume, William Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell, David Mamet, and more as your teachers. Cooking, sports, business, and art are just some of the subjects. The classes are very well thought out and taught by these actual people (it’s not just their name attached to a class that someone else is teaching.) There is a Hub spot where students can chat and collaborate on projects. You’ll get an All-Access Pass to MasterClass for $180.00 a year and have access to all of the classes that are offered.
Learning new things should be a life-long commitment. It beats boredom, makes you more interesting, and staves off dementia. It also makes you more adaptable to change, and the more you learn, the more your learning speed increases.