Perhaps it’s been years… even decades… since the last time you set foot in a classroom. In that case, you may not even know where to begin when it comes to furthering your education. That’s totally understandable.
Luckily, there are plenty of resources available that make continuing your education easier (and cheaper) than you might think. Plus, returning to school also offers many valuable, proven mental and emotional benefits, too. Even taking a short two-week course here or there can help keep your mind malleable.
And remember – as you get older, any activities that test your cognitive performance can aid in staving off Alzheimer’s and dementia and improve memory retention. Taking educational classes definitely falls under this umbrella.
Here are some tips on how to get started.
Finding Cheap or Free Tuition
First of all, continuing education doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive. And if it has been decades since you’ve been in a classroom, you can really benefit from certain programs. Countless colleges and universities offer reduced or even free tuition to seniors over the age of 60. Seriously – there’s at least one in every single state. In several states, seniors that attend state institutions may even be able to have their tuition waived completely.
For younger adults, you may benefit from financial aid in the form of lottery assistance. Many states which offer lotteries earmark that money to reimburse people who are seeking degrees. Half or more of your tuition could be covered by lottery funds in certain states, but you’ll need to visit the financial aid office to find out details.
Enrolling in Classes
While it isn’t always the case, the most likely schools to have free classes are those with open enrollment. This is typical with community colleges, state institutions and the like. Of course, depending on where you live, there may also be so generous private colleges as well. It never hurts to do a little research by calling various schools in your area or searching online.
Going back to school doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to be in a classroom at a certain time on certain days. Online classes are massively popular now, and depending on your degree, you may never have to step foot into a classroom to complete your class requirements.
Bootcamps and Non-Credited Online Courses
If you are just wanting to learn some new skills and you’re not necessarily interested in a college degree, there are a plethora of bootcamps and online courses that are designed just for that. Whether it’s photography, coding, graphic design or writing, almost any subject can be found with an online teacher ready to help you grow.
The costs of these types of programs can certainly be prohibitive, but depending on where you are in your career, you may be able to benefit from the investment in this type of education.
The good news is that there are also a ton of tutorial-style videos on YouTube and other sites that can help you learn a new skill. Want to play guitar? Want to learn to write haikus? Want to learn basic HTML? There are free videos and online courses that cover many skills that don’t require a penny upfront.