Lifelong Learning Experiences

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Our 50th birthday is a significant milestone and brings with it anticipation of the next phase of our lives, retirement. If we were frugal savers, hit the lottery or were good investors, we luckily find ourselves in a position where we no longer need to work five days a week in exchange for a paycheck. We raised our children, put in long hours for decades and can now say ‘ahhh'. Maybe, think of ourselves first for a change. With a bit of hesitation, you may feel guilty about it. It’s okay to feel this way initially.

It’s your time now to have fun and find a new purpose while you're in good health, find a social club, take a class or a part-time job are great options. Challenge your brain and stir up your creative spirit. What have you always wanted to do and never had the time? Take a course and learn more about painting, woodworking, pottery or take up photography. Study history, write a book, or learn a foreign language. Not sure what to do and feeling a thankful heart at this point in your life?

Pay it forward and go on a Missions Trip some where in the world to help others. Help a Soup Kitchen in your community. The next generation, the Echo Boomers and Millennium's, are hungry for our knowledge, even if they don't admit it.

Let me share with you a few of the many enrichment programs and opportunities you can experience through Lifelong Learning Courses across America. Lifelong Learning Centers are not a new idea. Some date as far back as the late 1950’s. However, the trend is picking up speed with a significant part of our population entering senior status. The diversity of Lifelong Learning Courses available to seniors is quickly expanding. For example, check out:

Elderhostel’s Road Scholar program launched in 2004 offering mature adults, adventures in Lifelong Learning around the globe. Pack your bags and bring a camera. Have you wondered, will going back to school make me feel like a kid again or will I be out of place? Ask any retiree who went back to school and you will find a refreshed heart and soul. The good news, because of this momentum shift and aging population, retiring baby boomers will most likely experience a better quality of life than their parents did by having more fun opportunities available to them.

Carolina College for Lifelong Learning offers short study classes on politics, history, art, literature, music, wellness and more. Lectures, enrichment excursions and community service opportunities are part of their curriculum. More Tar Heel opportunities are listed on the UNC Alumni website:

     Adventure Ideas– Seminars on campus at Chapel Hill exploring cultural, moral and social issues

     War Programs – Overwhelmingly popular studies on historical battles and impact

     Fast Programs – Timely discussions on public conscience issues

     Carolina Clubs – plethora of opportunities in your neighborhood

     Heel Travel Programs – adventurous travel studies near and far

Most studies take place on their main campus in Chapel Hill although there are 17 University of North Carolina campuses throughout the state. As Baby Boomers continue to retire, we anticipate the curriculum at all campuses expanding as they have at the University of North Carolina Asheville campus (NCCCR). Founded in 1988, the Center for Creative Retirement (NCCCR) focuses entirely on Lifelong Learning Classes for retirees.

Osher Lifelong Learning - Founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute began focusing on retiring Baby Boomers in 2000. The Osher Lifelong Learning Foundation supports over 100 Lifelong Learning Studies in campuses across America, in all 50 states. Many students are mature adults who want resume their undergraduate studies they started and never finished. You’re never too old to graduate college. In 2007, Nola Ochs at 95 years old, graduated from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Nola Ochs attended college in 1911, raised four sons who gave her 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Imagine the graduation celebration with her family and her sense of accomplishment.

Scholarship grants are not just for kids. Osher Lifelong Learning Foundation offers scholarship grants to mature adults over 50 years old for re-entry into college seeking degree completion. You will find a list of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute participating colleges here: Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

FAU Lifelong Learning Society– The Lifelong Learning Society (LLS) began in 1980 offering non-credited personal enrichment classes at the Barry and Florence Friedberg Lifelong Learning Center in Boca Raton Florida. The Elinor Bernon Rosenthal Lifelong Learning Complex in Jupiter Florida is another Lifelong Learning Center affiliated with Florida Atlantic University offering an extensive list of courses and one day lectures. Courses include topics related to history, science, literature, foreign politics, music, art and more. Read more about Lifelong Learning at FAU

SeniorNet.com – Did you miss jumping on the computer technology train in the early 2000’s? Good news - It’s not too late. SeniorNet.com offers Lifelong Learning focused on computer technology through on-line courses. Ironic. This forces you to use a computer to learn which is a good thing.

As a grandparent, if you are not on Facebook, you are missing the opportunity to experience your children’s lives through their generation’s technology. It may feel odd to you at first but, you will be posting and chatting on Facebook with your family in no time when you learn how simple it is to use. In fact, you may find it addicting.

SeniorNet.com offers more than computer courses for seniors. Health and Wellness, Personal Finance, Children, Parents and Family courses are available on-line in addition to courses related to art, writing, foreign languages and more. Visit the program outline for SeniorNet.com

An unexpected bonus - you may be eligible for a Lifelong Learning Tax Credits from the IRS. An individual tax payer may be eligible to claim a Lifelong Learning Tax Credit on their personal tax return up to $1,000 a year with $ 2,000 as a Lifetime Learning Credit. Who qualifies? Rules for claiming Lifelong Learning Tax Credit

Although these Lifelong Learning Centers focus on retirees, you will find similar classes at local community colleges, technical schools and education facilities. We encourage you to not wait too long after you relocate and retire to take a class. Join a social club, meet new friends and share your lifetime experiences. What is a social club? A way to share common interests with your peers is a social setting. Plug into the local community as quickly as possible. After relocating across the country, my very shy mother is now having the time of her life - now in art classes, walking weekly with the Happy Hoofer Walking Club and attends monthly social dinner clubs. If she can do it, so can you. I'm so proud she stepped out of her comfort zone.

A twisted touch of senior comic relief: Lifelong Learning Courses designed for the Baby Boomer generation means we don’t have to sit in a traditional college classroom of 20 year old something’s, text messaging each other when the professor is not looking. We can stick with our own age group and enjoy Lifelong Learning Courses designed just for us.

Don't miss your golden opportunity to be a kid again and go back to school. Rodney Dangerfield did. No more guessing, what is a social club? Social clubs are fun and enriching. If you can't find a social club of interest, start a new social club.

Warmly, Margie Casey Founder

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