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09.16.21 | Community

Why It’s Never Too Late to Go Back to School

As part of Sage Collective’s 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, we encourage everyone to take advantage of their unique talents and interests to help others in meaningful ways. However, for some, finding a purpose and exploring interests can be overwhelming or somehow inaccessible. Going back to school is one effective way for older adults to discover purpose, increase knowledge and realize a dream.

Today, the typical college student is starting to look less like a 20-year-old running late to class after a night out and more like a middle-aged adult seriously interested in furthering their education. In fact, according to the Lumina Foundation, almost half of the undergraduates from for-profit institutions and one in five undergraduates from four-year universities are over the age of 30. 

Flexibility is one of the key reasons why older adults are choosing now to return to school. Encouraged by COVID-19, many universities have adopted and significantly improved their online learning programs. Often, online programs encourage their students to take classes and earn their degrees at their own pace.

Furthering their education isn’t always the main reason older adults choose to go back to school. Changing career directions, cultivating purpose and interests, and even retaining a sharp brain are all motives for older adults to go back to school. Research has shown that continued intellectual engagement for seniors, like going back to school, can help protect them from certain cognitive disabilities like dementia. 

Going back to school for older adults is also more affordable than ever. Many states are now offering free or low-cost opportunities for older adults to access academic classes. AARP has assembled a list of financial assistance offered by each state that you can learn more about here

Universities across the country are welcoming older populations with open arms now more than ever enabling these ‘new’ students to experience the rewarding and self-validating experience of revisiting education. Whether you’re looking to further a career, explore your purpose, or want to learn something new, it is never too late to go back to school.

A group of older adults celebrate with high fives around a table.
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