Seniors in Education

As more seniors are opting for late retirement, there is a need for them to continuously learn new skills and upgrade their qualifications. Several institutions have taken part in ensuring that senior education is as accessible as possible. In this article, we explore the various education programs available for senior, their applicability, and the benefits of the highlighted courses to seniors.

Affordable Educational Resources for Seniors

Local Community Colleges and Universities: All the states have their own higher education systems, which are made up of community colleges and universities. Seniors may be eligible for reduced or free educational possibilities. A scholarship program for adults is offered to seniors that are at least 60 years of age. If they meet the eligibility requirements, they can receive free in-state tuition for 2 years. The requirements and funding available vary substantially from one state to the next.

Local Libraries: A variety of free personal and professional courses may be available at your local library. A good example is the New York Public Library, which offers over 80 free technology classes at 24 technology labs throughout the city. This is called the Older Adults Technology Services (OATS). The Senior Planet Exploration Center, which is their flagship facility, offers free five to ten-week digital technology classes, as well as workshops, presentations, and social or cultural activities. In partnership with community-based agencies and government entities, OATS helps seniors improve the well-being, finances, social interaction, and education of adults with technology.

Online Opportunities for Senior Education

Most seniors have challenges with mobility and transportation, there has been an increase in the number of free online learning options for seniors allowing them to take classes from the comfort of their own homes. Seniors should look into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s OpenCourseWare, which offers free access to online classes in the following areas: Energy, Entrepreneurship, Environmental Studies, IT, Life Sciences, and Transportation.

SeniorNet: Founded in 1986 SeniorNet provides seniors over the age of 55 as well as veterans, the underprivileged, people with disabilities with technological education at its various learning centers. These can be found at elderly homes, community centers, public libraries, schools and colleges, and healthcare facilities. SeniorNet was developed out of a Markle Foundation-sponsored research study.

Workforce Continuing Education: Adults aged 55 and above are the fastest-growing segment of the work market, with a predicted 25 percent increase by 2028 therefore lifelong vocational learning and training are required. Also, seniors need to be trained in the forever advancing technology.

ReGeneration: Industry-recognized qualifications and training are available through programs like ReGeneration for elderly workers looking to enter the workforce. Classes in IT and healthcare are available, and students are connected with local firms for interviews and on-the-job support.

The United States Department of Labor supports ReGeneration, which is delivered in partnership with the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation.

AARP SCSEP Training: Through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), funded by the US Department of Labor, the AARP is a free training program aimed at assisting seniors in gaining the necessary skills to enter or re-enter the workforce. This program is active in 21 states as well as in Puerto Rico. The AARP Foundation offers various programs at each state.

Volunteer Organizations

Volunteering their time to assist charitable organizations is another excellent opportunity for seniors to gain new skills. Most Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) actively seek volunteer support and provide training to help volunteers gain the skills they need to provide the services they need.

Senior Educational Programs which offer Lifelong Learning

Growing older should not prevent you from progressing personally or professionally. Many groups provide free or low-cost educational programs to seniors so that they can continue to learn and grow in their later years.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes: The Bernard Osher Foundation was established in 1977 to provide learning opportunities to those over 50. The charity awards scholarships to 120 colleges and universities around the country. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers classes in philosophy, history, art, music, and political science, among other areas. There are no tests or grades in these non-credit courses.

Area Agency on Aging (AAA): The Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) were established in 1973, following the passage of the Older Americans Act, to provide services and opportunities to seniors so that they can remain active citizens of their communities for as long as possible. A wide range of programs is available through AAAs, including opportunities for learning and training, transportation, and volunteer work. The AAA runs senior facilities in many areas that offer crafts, computer training, and other learning opportunities. Local programs differ according to the needs of the community.

Age-Friendly University Global Network: A strategy that is gaining support is to make all academic settings more hospitable and usable for seniors. The Age-Friendly University Global Network was established to ensure that tertiary institutions adhere to age-friendly approaches and contribute to an academic movement that benefits students of all ages on social, personal, and economic levels. The Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), which also offers webinars on the topic, sponsors and supports the network.

Road Scholar: Road Scholar, formerly Elder Hostel, is the largest non-commercial educational travel organization for seniors above the age of 50, with over 5,000 programs in over 150 countries. The programs combine travel, education, and experiential learning with classes in science, IT, skills training, music, and philosophy. Financial assistance is available to students who would otherwise be unable to attend Road Scholar’s programs. Scholarships worth over $100,000 are funded each year thanks to donations.

Institute for Retired Professionals: The Institute for Retired Professionals, founded in 1962 at The New School is open to retired or part-time seniors over 50 who want to participate in cooperative learning and education. It is located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. There are no exams or grades so there are no credits or degrees available. Students may enroll in up to three study groups per semester, as well as one normal New School class for a 50% fee cut. Over $1,000 in tuition is provided for each student per year.

Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement: 500 retired and semi-retired professionals, many of whom are experts in their industries, make up this group. The program includes access to Harvard resources such as libraries, museums, seminars, concerts, literature groups, and opportunities to participate in movie productions, in addition to offering 3-month long peer-designed and led classes per year.

Program 60: The Ohio State University’s Program 60 is a coordinated program that permits seniors over 60 to matriculate in non-credit graduate and undergraduate classes subject to space availability and the lecturers’ approval.

The Oasis Institute: Oasis is a noncommercial educational organization based in St. Louis, Missouri, that works in over 250 locations throughout 23 states. Every year, almost 135,000 seniors participate in 7,640 lifelong learning and health promotion workshops. Also, almost 6,200 seniors volunteer with Oasis, under the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring unit.

STARS Senior Enrichment Program: The Hamilton Holt School’s STARS Senior Enrichment Program which is overseen by Rollins College provides lessons to retired and working seniors on a variety of creative programs. These include IT, history religious studies, crafts and art, cinematography, current affairs and history, reading and writing classes. Also, there are financial aid opportunities. The Winter Park Health Foundation provided initial funding for this project.

Encore Education: Encore education is advantageous because seniors can now enroll for tertiary education at their leisure or even take classes online and establish a career path that is fit for them and their needs. Encore education is becoming more widely offered, ranging from online learning to traditional four-year on-campus learning. Many factors, both financial and non-financial, must be considered while deciding to continue your education. An excellent place to begin is by locating the appropriate institution.

Financial Assistance

Free or Reduced Tuition: Many colleges and universities provide some type of tuition discount, waiver, or scholarship to assist seniors in achieving their educational goals without incurring excessive debt. These programs frequently include age restrictions, which usually fall between the ages of 60 to 65. Some may also impose a cap on the number of courses taken every semester or impose GPA requirements.

Fortunately, there are a variety of options for funding senior education. Many colleges now give older adults who want to take classes – or even finish a full degree – a reduced or free tuition rate. Foundations, organizations, institutions, and the federal government all offer scholarships and grants to aid with costs. The sections that follow highlight some of the greatest funding sources, as well as professional advice on how to obtain money set aside for college.

Independent Grants and Scholarships for Senior Citizens: Grants and scholarships are available from a variety of institutions, charities, and organizations. The following are just a few examples of senior-only grants or scholarships:

  • The Jeanette Rankin Foundation Women’s Education Fund is for low-income women aged 35 and above. This scholarship is awarded only to women who are pursuing their first degree in college where a vocational, technical, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree can be obtained.
  • Senior students pursuing an undergraduate degree are awarded $3500 scholarships by the Alpha Sigma Lambda.
  • For women, the Scholastic Transition Grant is provided by the Executive Women International (EWI).

Tuition Waivers and Discounts: In several states around the US, public and community institutions and colleges waive tuition for seniors. In certain circumstances, colleges set a limit on how many tuition-free courses older persons can attend each semester. Many institutions allow seniors to take classes at a reduced fee in states where tuition is not entirely waived.

Audit a Class: Many colleges allow seniors to enroll in classes for free or at a reduced cost. This is an excellent option for seniors who are interested in academics but do not need a degree or certificate. They can learn about areas that interest them without having to pay exorbitant tuition fees.

Which Programs to Select?

The majority of tertiary institutions, according to the American Association of Community Colleges, provide degree programs and classes tailored to senior students. Returning students and older adults will frequently be taught by a separate division; seek for names like Metropolitan College, University College, Continuing Education, or Extension. Many colleges and universities give scholarships to seniors 55 and older to encourage them to pursue a second career.

An associate’s degree is a two-year degree that can be used as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree. An Associate’s Degree usually takes 60 credit hours to complete, which is about half of what a bachelor’s degree takes. An associate’s degree can be classified as either an Associate of Arts degree or an Associates of Science degree. Those seeking an associate’s degree usually choose from one of the following options: Accounting, Development studies, Crafts and Art, Museum technicians, Psychology, Real Estate, Sales, and Tax Preparers.

For individuals who have already completed an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree is the next step. The most common Bachelor’s degrees prepare students for careers in the following fields: Accounting, Business, Engineering, Medical Billing, and Psychology.

Some seniors earn a bachelor’s degree and go into business for themselves. Anyone interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial career may benefit from a business degree. These occupations include Hairdressers, Tailors, Photographers, Street Vendors, and Authors.

Online Master’s Degree Programs for Seniors

Returning to graduate school to earn a more advanced degree in the field in which they hold an undergraduate degree is an option for seniors seeking a secondary profession later in life. These advanced degrees may include: Master of Accounting, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master’s Degree in Public Health, Master of Science in Nursing/Nurse Practitioner.

Online Ph.D. Degree Programs for Older Adults

Many subjects allow you to pursue a Ph.D. online if you already have a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral candidates, on the whole, are looking for certain expertise or want to perform research. Many seniors are considering pursuing a Ph.D. as a means to apply their experience and skills in a noncommercial or governmental setting, or to just have a positive influence on the world. Doctoral degrees in the following fields may appeal to seniors: Biology, Botany, History, Law, Literature and Writing Philosophy.

Why do Seniors Need Further Education?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the older portions of the US population are expected to expand the quickest in the labor force through 2024. The biggest growth is expected for people aged between 65 and 74 and those aged 75 and above. The workforce in the United States has been changing for decades.

A senior worker is someone who is over the age of 55, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To forecast future workforce trends, the BLS looks at a range of data sources. When one considers the advantages of a changing workforce for older individuals and seniors, now is an excellent moment to take advantage of senior citizen scholarships or adult learning opportunities.

States having  the Best Education Opportunities

Maryland is one of the best states for education. Robust programs for part-time students, flexibility for online learners, and a varied student body population all contribute to its high rating. However, according to College Factual’s rankings, New Jersey ranks first in terms of education. Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, and Colorado follow it to round up the top five states.