Discover the many benefits of lifelong learning.
While a school classroom might be a distant memory for a lot of people, education can continue throughout a lifetime in a wide variety of settings. Learning something new can have many advantages, such as improving your skill set, opening up new opportunities and offering a multitude of health and wellness benefits. And whether you sign up for a course or go the self-taught route, technology makes it easy to fit education into your busy life.
The education advantage
Train your brain. Learning something is like exercise for your brain. It stimulates the neurons and helps you to stay sharp. Challenging your mind can also increase your concentration and problem-solving abilities. You might find it’s easier to remember and retrieve information, especially when you’re distracted.
Make new connections. Enrolling in a course can be good way to connect with new people, countering the trend to become more socially isolated with age. Joining a class allows you to interact with others on a regular basis, build new relationships and keep your social skills sharp. And you might make some long-lasting friendships along the way.
Fight aging. Acquiring new knowledge can actually promote the growth of new brain cells, even into later adulthood. This, in turn, helps reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and memory loss. Classes that challenge your mind can help improve your cognitive skills, such as short- and long-term memory, attention to detail and even ability to complete math problems. Your “younger” mind will thank you later.
Discover a new passion. When you learn a new skill, you might find yourself falling in love with a whole new occupation. Trying something new can provide fresh opportunities and open new doors, but you might also uncover untapped potential. Perhaps you have a talent for computer coding or a flair for home decorating. You will never know unless you try.
Stay relevant. In today’s fast-paced world, it pays to keep on learning. Not only can you enhance decision-making skills or improve your adaptability – both very important traits to have in a professional setting – you can grow your skill set, stay up to date on the latest technologies, and possibly access better employment opportunities and improve your income.
Be happy. Education can help reduce stress or delay the onset of depression. It releases dopamine in the brain, which is the chemical that helps you feel good and increases your energy levels. Learning something new can help give you a sense of purpose and is a great way to boost your self-esteem and confidence.
Signing up is easier than you think
The great thing about adult education is that you have the freedom to learn about the things that interest you and you can do it at your own pace. The options are endless. You can attend a full-time course in person or do it virtually. You can pursue a professional qualification or simply learn for pleasure and personal satisfaction. If you are considering picking up a course or two, learning opportunities exist in a number of places.
Most universities and colleges offer continuing education courses. These are often non-credit programs (which means there are no prerequisite courses or exams) that allow you to enjoy lectures and discuss topics in a collaborative environment with like-minded lifelong learners. Some universities may even waive some or all of the tuition fees for people over age 60 who want to pursue a degree.
If attending a class in person is a challenge, online courses might be more your thing. A wide range of courses is available from a huge selection of schools and virtual educators. Some may charge tuition, and some might be free. If your goal is to get a degree or diploma, you can go at your own pace.
Community centres and libraries can be another great source for courses that appeal to a range of interests, often for a small fee or none at all. These days, many libraries offer both in-person and online learning opportunities.
For those who prefer to go the self-taught route, YouTube can be a great source for learning. There are literally hundreds of “how-to” videos that demonstrate everything from building a backyard deck to playing guitar.
Lifelong learning is for everyone
Education – in any form – is widely available to everyone, to suit a range of interests, abilities and budgets in all kinds of settings. Completing a course and learning new skills can be a great source of personal pride and fulfillment, not to mention the physical, social and health benefits it can provide for years to come.