As the children or grandkids return back to school, this time of year can often trigger memories of our own school days – the football games, theatrical productions, drive-in movies. That first kiss. The embarrassing prom fiasco or the pretty girl who ran away when you asked her for a date.
Those were the best of times, and occasionally, the worst of times, but they brought us together and we made some besties along the way.
Miss those days of making friends and gaining knowledge? Would you
like to finish that degree, brush up on your technology skills, or learn how to
take really great photos with a DSLR camera?
We say: Go for it! Go back to school!
The process of learning, engaging and socializing builds neural connections,
strengthens cognitive skills and boosts overall mood while helping to stave off dementia and depression too.
And returning back to school could payoff with an encore career, a part-time business or a new hobby that will fill your day with fun and creativity.
Now it’s perfectly natural to feel some degree of fear. You may be afraid you won’t fit in with a younger crowd, that it will take up too much time,
or be too expensive.
I know. I felt all of the above when I decided to pursue my certification in photography to complement my journalism degree. But I put those worries aside and focused on the benefits.
To my relief, I made many friends – of all ages. I came up with a workable plan that would fit in with my career schedule and family commitments. I was able to obtain a senior tuition waiver at St. Petersburg College, which covered everything
except lab fees, books and supplies.
Florida residents over 60 should look into this senior perk. The privilege is usually granted on a space available basis, so see a counselor in the admissions department of the institution you would like to attend for all the details.
Another, perhaps more relaxing option is to take classes through Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes on campuses like Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, its Palm Harbor support location, and through the University of South Florida. These
non-credit courses don’t have assignments, tests or grades and cover subjects like biography, culture and travel, film and television, Florida studies, history, theatre, science and visual arts.
The annual OLLI membership is $59 per person and provides class discounts, but
non-OLLI members are welcomed to participate. Most classes and activity
fees vary from $10 to $45 for members. Many are single session classes offered
for a couple of hours in a morning or afternoon.
Or consider attending technical and vocational schools, which can lead to
professionally recognized licenses and certificates in everything from cosmetology to pastry arts to welding. Since most programs can be completed in a year or less, it’s a nice option for those looking for a career change.
Many community colleges and universities offer weekend and night classes
for those that wish to advance their personal or workforce skills in such areas
like web development, Photoshop, drone operations, or personal finance.
For the artistically inclined, local art centers usually offer studio classes for adults in subjects like painting, sculpting, photography, jewelry making and woodworking.
Whatever you pursue, your brain will enjoy the workout. And you’ll feel good about improving your chances of remaining sharp and self-confident in the years to come.
It will also demonstrate to the younger generations that learning is a valuable, lifelong pursuit that enhances your well being and general welfare.
Terri Bryce Reeves, Editor
“You’re off to great places. Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!”
~ Dr. Seuss