“Retire from your job, but never retire your mind.”
There’s no age limit when it comes to learning. Every year, plenty of retirees return to classrooms and lecture halls. After years of work, retirement gives them the time to study exactly what they want to.
With their newfound freedom, some retirees decide to travel whilst others choose to return to studying. After all, they have more free time to spend studying and it’s also an opportunity to try out new things and discover the joy of learning.
Here’s Superprof's guide to the types of courses that advanced learners can attend during retirement and the educational establishments offering them.
Retirees are more than welcome at universities. You can start a new course or further your studies. For degree courses, you’ll often need A-Levels or equivalent qualifications.
The grades will depend on the course and the university you’re applying to. Courses will have an application deadline so make sure your candidature is ready well ahead of time. There are plenty of different types of courses and you have a few options.
Don't forget that you also have the freedom to do certain classes rather than enrolling on an entire course. There probably aren't many senior citizens that interested in spending the time and money it takes to get a full undergraduate degree and would rather just attend something like an evening language class at their local university.
Did you know that you can still get qualifications without ever entering a classroom or lecture hall?
Distance learning is a way to learn without leaving the comfort of your own home.
Whether it’s for health or mobility reasons or just for comfort, distance learning is an excellent option for retirees. You can learn at your own pace. However, you do need a lot of drive to make sure that you stay focused. There’s a broad range of courses available from various establishments.
Some offer qualifications whereas others don’t, but, generally, all the resources you’ll need will be made available to you and the Open University is probably the place you think of but other universities also offer distance learning solutions.
Again, you don't need to commit to studying for a full degree on an Open University course. There are options for seniors to study things like a Certificate of Higher Education, a Diploma of Higher Education, a Foundation Degree, an Open University Certificate, individual modules, access modules, short courses, or micro-credentials.
Adult Education and Night Classes
No matter where you live, there are often classes available in a variety of skills and disciplines offered by the local government. Many of these courses are for learning specific skills or finding new hobbies and are a good option for those wanting to study something less serious than a university degree either in person or through the Open University.
Normally, you can find these types of courses and classes through your local government website under Adult Education. While the courses won't necessarily be free, they are often very affordable at just a few pounds per hour of teaching.
These are an excellent option if you'd like to learn a foreign language, IT skills, arts and crafts, or something new. If you haven't even decided what you want to learn yet, it might be a good idea to look at which courses are available and sign up for one.
Remember that in some local areas, courses are dependent on demand so don't wait around as they might not decide to keep certain classes on for the next term if nobody is enrolling on them!
In a similar vein to distance learning, there are also online courses. These are commonly known as MOOCs (massive open online courses). These are accessible from the web and a lot of the courses are run by universities and qualifications are sometimes provided, but not necessary to complete the course.
Here are some of the most famous ones:
These are another way to learn from the comfort of your own home but they tend to be broader in scope than the kind of classes and courses you could enjoy from The Open University.
With MOOCs, senior citizens can learn anything from a new language to information technology skills. There are also video courses on music and the arts as well as courses teaching you very specific skills like video editing or music production, for example.
MOOCs are a good choice for those in retirement who aren't studying a qualification but are interested in having something enriching to do with their newly-found free time.
The University of the Third Age (u3a)
The University of the Third Age is an organisation that offers learning opportunities to senior citizens and those in retirement. It's not aimed at those of a specific age, but rather for anyone who is no longer in full-time employment.
Its goals are to promote lifelong learning and it does this through a network of interest groups covering topics and activities according to the members' interests.
This means that there are groups all over the country and the idea is for those who are a part of the movement to help each other to learn.
Those who are interested can search for local u3a groups on their website and find out how to join. This isn't free, but u3a aims to ensure that membership remains as cheap as possible so you can find places offering annual membership for as little as £20.
Now you should know a bit more about study options for retirees. Enjoy your studies!
If you're looking to learn a new skill, brush up on old ones, or just try something different, consider getting help from a private tutor on Superprof. There are tutors offering lessons in academic subjects, arts and crafts, foreign languages, sports and coaching, and even guidance and life coaching.
There are three main ways that private tutorials are usually taught: face-to-face, online, or in groups. Each type of tutoring comes with its pros and cons so think carefully about what you want from the tutoring before you decide on the type of tuition to get.
Face-to-face tutorials are excellent for those looking to learn something quickly as every minute of every session is spent focusing on you as you'll be the only student. Similarly, the lessons can be planned with you in mind and tailored to your level, ambition, and experience. These types of tutorials are also good for those with limited mobility as a lot of tutors travel to their students.
If you can't find a tutor for a certain subject in your local area, you can always look to online tutorials. As long as you have a decent internet connection and a webcam (which often comes built into modern laptops, tablets, or smartphones), you can get private tutorials from tutors anywhere in the world. Since they don't have to travel and have fewer outgoings, online tutorials tend to be slightly cheaper than face-to-face tutoring.
Group tutorials are an excellent choice for those on a budget as you get to share the cost of the tutor with the other students in attendance. Similarly, if you're looking to take classes to maintain a social life into retirement, group tutorials are probably your best option. Almost every type of class works well in a group, too.
Before you start contacting private tutors, we recommend making a list of requirements so that you know what you're looking for in a tutor. After all, there are thousands of tutors on the Superprof website and you won't want to waste your time contacting tutors who aren't what you're looking for.
Once you've got a better idea of what you're looking for, start getting in touch with tutors and remember that many of them offer the first lesson for free. You can use these free sessions to try out several different private tutors before deciding upon the one that's right for you, your budget, and what and how you'd like to learn.