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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

Learning Later in Life: The Value of College for Adults

Updated: May 26, 2020

Agreeing on the value of lifelong learning is easy. Seeking appropriate opportunities that fit with all other aspects of life is a challenge. As new options and societal values on ageless learning increase, adults can return to school with more purpose, confidence, and control. There are no old dogs here. ~ Melanie Reinersman,

FOCUS ON: Adult Education

Adding new skills and knowledge may be more important to seniors than adding another travel itinerary or lowering a golf score. This is especially true if they want to get hired another time or two before their paid work life ends. Colleges and universities are keenly aware of this huge market, and aim to offer more educational options. Defining curriculum, financial resources, and age-friendly features are just a few of the issues to be grappled with. Read more from the NY Times.

ENCORE CAREERS: Encore Programs for Credit

Rather than just audit a course or two, seniors may want to earn credits toward a degree for a new career. So called “encore programs” offer education and skill development, often with a specific goal, such getting baby boomers nearing retirement into careers in the social sector. Read more from

COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITIES: Research Prior to Enrollment

Prospective college students who are non-traditional must ask specific questions before choosing an educational path and institution. Smart questions include inquiring about opportunities to build communities with similar age groups, career services, tutoring, and the availability of other resources. Read more from US News.

FOR PRACTITIONERS: Questions to Ask the Future Student

The client may walk in the door with the question “Should I go back to school even though I’m over 50?” The answer depends on a number of other questions that follow. Career services practitioners who want to help older clients may guide the exploration of the job market, financial plans, support and more to thoroughly assist the client with the difficult decision. Read more from AARP.

TOP TEN: Ways to Retain What You Learn

Don’t let the “poor memory” excuse stop the choice to return to school. Today’s options for learning go beyond sitting and listening. People are less likely to forget what they learn if they use visual aids, participate in group discussions, or just read out loud. See all 10 ways to retain new material regardless of your memory skills or age! These ideas may also be used by career services providers when making presentations to various populations. Read all ten ways to retain what you learn.


“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” - Henry Ford
“I am not young enough to know everything.” - J.M. Barrie


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