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A Guide to Senior Education

Rita Dichele - April 18, 2017 10:52 AM

Education does not have to stop because of age. In fact, there are many opportunities for senior citizens to learn just about anything. It’s also a chance for caregivers to get involved in an activity for their own needs!  I would recommend to Google for more information. In the meantime, below are some helpful sites that may be of interest. is an excellent way to get started because it provides the universities that offer free on-line classes.  The site lists the classes by subject or you can easily search for those classes you want to learn more about.  It is a very user-friendly site.

Another place to search is and the local senior or community centers for congregate activities. There are also bookstores that will offer book clubs in exchange for buying the book at the merchant’s store. In addition, AARP has ideas in their magazine or website regarding national and local educational information.

A site I found helpful is Coursera offers classes on-line taught by professors from 29 top tier universities – even Ivy League schools! Most of the classes are free. However, certificates can be given if you choose to pay a nominal fee in exchange for peer graded papers and on-line quizzes. Like many on-line courses, there are discussion boards on topics related to the subject matter at hand.  In addition, there is a syllabus with weekly assignments; plus suggested reading. The best parts are the weekly videos! The videos are lectures by professors and in many instances, they include their teaching assistants. There are classes in creative writing, journaling, and technical writing. If you are a learned adventurist, there are classes in statistics, calculus, engineering, web design, and social media. Furthermore, you can either brush up on your foreign language skills or learn a new one. Finally, if you like philosophy and want to learn more about Kierkegaard, it’s all at your fingertips!  You have 2100 courses to pick from all for free or a nominal certificate fee. As such, Coursera offers classes on all levels. 

I just can’t say enough about Coursera and happy to report my own experience; taking a great course on poetry. It was a course given by the University of Pennsylvania. Every week there were multiple-videos with a roundtable discussion between the professors and teaching assistants. They literally discussed each line of the poet’s work and sometimes would focus on the meaning of one word. There was also a chance to get together at local coffee shops for those of us who lived nearby, taking the class. All and all, it was not only an intellectual experience, but a social one as well.

I could just go on about what is available via the Internet and in the community. I don’t, however, want to forget to mention Skillshare. Skillshare is not academically rigorous but does offer over 15,000 courses for a nominal monthly fee. However, if you don’t want to pay, there are as many as 2500 courses available for free. The courses range from art classes – illustration, acrylic painting, sculpturing, etc.  Several computer classes from basic to advance levels are offered. There are also classes on how to use social media including tweeting!

Finally, if you want an academic challenge, there are those universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Stamford, who offer courses through Courses are free but there are fees. They ask for at least a $10 donation per class.  Also, there are nominal fees if you choose to get a course certificate.

I haven’t mention too much about local classes at community universities. Most universities will let senior citizens audit classes for free.  You can also go on-line to get a list of tuition waver classes designated by the individual states. If you Google:   A Senior’s Guide to College; will provide the necessary information you need. However, some schools may not be listed; so, it might be best to call the school for more information.

Well, I have provided you with the educational avenues to explore; albeit on-line or in your community. Please do not become overwhelmed by what is available; especially on-line. There is something for everyone. Remember, education leaves no one behind as we are all connected by our common interests and goals. 

Have fun exploring!

Rita Dichele holds three Master degrees in Counseling Psychology, Health Care Administration, and Human Services.  Ms. Dichele is certified in death & dying and bereavement from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).  She is on faculty with A.T. Still University and instructs classes in grief work and long-term care.

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