Lifelong learning enables you to enrich your mind and expand your career opportunities even if you completed your formal education long ago. Regardless of if you have a big bank account or if you’re on a limited budget, there are still many ways, both in your community and online, to build your knowledge and skills.
Educational Opportunities in Your Community
- Visit your local library. Borrowing books is a good enough reason to take a trip to your local library, but they now offer much more. Search the downloadable media for audiobooks and test preparation guides for graduate school exams and civil service tests. Browse the event calendar for free lectures and courses. I absolutely love my library card and everything it provides!
- Give yourself a museum membership. Museum memberships are a great bargain compared to the ticket prices for sporting events or movies. Being a member will usually give you access to special events and classes for the whole family.
- Take advantage of education benefits at work. Check your employee manual for tuition discounts and other benefits your employer may offer. Ask if you can organize a lunchtime speaker series. Many local professionals will welcome the opportunity to share their expertise on financial management or vegetarian cooking.
- Do an internship. In a tough job market, internships are one way to get the training you need to succeed. Target organizations where you can contribute while learning new skills.
- Volunteer your services. Volunteer work goes far beyond stuffing envelopes. Sign up to assist with a project outside your usual line of work. Most communities have nonprofit clearinghouses with a wide variety of choices, or contact a favorite charity you already support.
- Let your kids instruct you. Ask your kids to teach you what they’re learning in school. It’s a great way to help them master their coursework while you pick up a new language or review geometry.
- Teach a class. Try teaching a class on a subject where you have some expertise at your local church or community center. Preparing for classes and interacting with students is an effective way to deepen your own knowledge.
- Retire to a university town. University towns are becoming increasingly attractive to those who are retiring with smaller savings than they expected. You get access to all kinds of educational resources with a lower cost of living than many major cities.
- Search for financial aid. If your goals require that you go back to school, there are options for defraying the costs. Talk with the financial aid office at the university you select about scholarships, loans, grants, and veteran benefits that may be available to you.
Educational Opportunities In The Digital World
- Take free university courses. Hundreds of respected universities and colleges offer free online courses. You can download audio and video courses from Oxford or Ivy League schools on every subject imaginable, from poetry to physics.
- Switch to smarter YouTube channels. Tear yourself away from the videos of kittens petting puppies to visit organizations like the Aspen Institute which airs nonpartisan seminars on critical world issues or the Nobel Prize where past and current Nobel Laureates talk about cultural and scientific advances.
- Turn on the subtitles. Foreign movies are a fun way to help you learn a new language or brush up if you’re getting rusty. Use the subtitles while you watch to learn correct pronunciation and expand your vocabulary. Some television stations also air subtitled foreign news programs where you can learn about world events while you improve your language skills.
Enjoy the thrills of new discoveries and the satisfaction of improving your mind. Many educational opportunities cost little or nothing, so you all need is a commitment to lifelong learning.