Second Careers: Resources for People Returning to College

You’ve decided to go back to school–congratulations! As it turns out, you’re not alone. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of full-time students age 65 and over in degree-granting schools increased 36% between 2007 and 2009, while the number of 50- to 64-year-old full-time students increased 42%.

OxfordceremonyHeading back to college later in life can be both fulfilling and fruitful; however, the many decisions involved–from choosing the right school and determining a course of study to budgeting for the various costs–can be overwhelming. Fortunately, a number of resources exist for older adults seeking information about higher education devoted to their needs.

A few years ago, the American Association for Community Colleges launched the Plus 50 Initiative, which encourages community colleges across the country to develop programs for those age 50 and older. The website provides links to college search tools and financial aid tips. is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping baby boomers seeking new careers that are dedicated to serving the greater good. Among the many programs the organization runs is the Encore College Initiative, which provides resources for individuals looking for specific college-level programs for older adults.

Elderhostel, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides educational and travel opportunities for retirees, helps support Lifelong Learning Institutes. Through these locally run membership organizations, participants select courses based on needs, interests, and the simple desire to learn. Most LLIs are sponsored by local colleges and universities, and offer a wide variety of programs.

Finally, many colleges and universities offer discounts–and, in some cases, even free tuition–for students over age 65. Consider starting your search by calling a local institute of higher learning and asking about special programs for seniors

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