It’s never too late to continue your education, regardless of age. However, it’s a big decision in many respects. There will be age gaps between you and many other students. Plus, it can have a pretty hefty price tag.
This article will cover some pros and cons of returning to school in your 60s, then review factors to consider, so you can include it in your retirement planning.
Here are some great reasons to go back to school in your 60s:
Keep Your Mind Sharp
Learning new things helps you maintain healthy cognitive function as you get older. College is the perfect place to do that. You can study various subjects that engage different parts of your brain and challenge you intellectually. As a result, your brain can remain healthy and strong.
Discovering new things contributes to personal growth and your understanding of the world. Learning for its own sake can inspire you.
Additionally, taking and passing quizzes and exams gives you a measurable sense of progress in your learning. Earning a degree can give you an immense self-esteem and confidence boost.
Interacting with young adult students offers opportunities for intergenerational exchange of perspectives and ideas. You can also try to find study groups of older learners. As for the technology, professors may be happy to help show you how to use it effectively.
Keep these downsides in mind before heading back to school:
The Financial Cost
The average four-year university charges nearly $390 per credit hour. You’ll pay nearly $1,200 for one class since most are three credit hours.
Community college and online classes can help you cut costs. Furthermore, taking one course at a time in subjects you’re highly interested in or will find useful rather than pursuing a full degree can help you spread the cost out. Regardless, make sure coursework doesn’t strain you financially.
Age and Generation Gaps
The average age of a college student in the US is a little over 26 years old. Such a large age and generation gap may create obstacles to relating to fellow students. Similarly, you may have to adapt to new technologies a professor uses in the classroom and for homework.
Learning can offer a lot of personal enrichment and fulfillment, but returning to school is a big decision.
Your Mental Health
Classes can be intellectually demanding and cause stress, especially in challenging subjects. Plus, your health can impact your ability to keep up with coursework and learn the material.
Be sure that you have the energy to commit to learning. It’s ok to take your education more slowly to accommodate your health if needed.
College classes place demands on your time. You must attend lectures and discussions, and you’ll need to do homework and study for exams. This may impact how many courses you take.
If you’re still in the workforce, you may consider waiting until you retire to pursue an education. On the other hand, if you’re retired and have a lot of free time, you may have more room for classes.
Consider your existing schedule and see where classes, homework, and study can fit in.
You don’t want your education to compromise a comfortable retirement through financial straining. Evaluate your retirement savings and assets and work with a financial professional to see if college coursework is financially viable.
Look for options to reduce costs, such as scholarships and grants. Consider community college to save money. You’ll also have to consider fees for textbooks, supplies, and software.
Lifelong learning can be immensely gratifying, especially when you have the free time to pursue it in retirement. Plus, it helps you stay mentally and intellectually sharp. However, college isn’t cheap.
Ultimately, you have more control over your education in retirement. You can take as few or as many courses as fits your situation. That way, you can pursue an education on your terms while minimizing potential downsides.