Lifelong learning - bring it on

If you’re fortunate enough to live in or near a college town, check out the opportunities for lifelong learning. If you find an OLLI program, so much the better.

Look for this OLLI logo

Ever wanted to know about organizing your photos with Picasa? Or preserving your family history? Are you curious about the history of England? Or how the Bible’s New Testament came together? 

Maybe you’d rather learn how to play a harmonica or hone your bridge skills. You’d probably like to master using your smart phone and tablet.

And surely we’re all interested in the Christian themes in Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” or the background meaning of “The Wizard of Oz.”

These are just a few of OLLI offerings at the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia. And there are tons more.

OLLI offers all kinds of opportunities for Baby Boomers, 50 and older, who love learning, adventures and socializing. They are not all the same, but they do all offer a variety of non-credit courses, cultural development activities, sponsored local field trips and international tours and get-togethers designed to stimulate and entertain enquiring minds.

Boomers embrace lifelong learning

We Boomers want to keep up with what’s going on in the world. We want to increase our personal growth and understanding. We are especially interested in keeping our brains active and we want to have fun with other Boomers.

You can’t fight the facts: Research has repeatedly shown that adults who stay intellectually active are also healthier and more socially balanced. Intellectual activity also helps ward off memory-loss and dementia problems.

The Bernard Osher Foundation started funding lifelong learning institutes with grants to universities and college campuses in 2003. Now, 122 schools have OLLI programs with at least one in every state and the District of Columbia. To find out if one is near you, click here.

Classes, determined by each independent board of directors and the demand of the programs’ members, are generally taught by a mix of university professors, local community leaders or other experts in areas of interest. Anyone with knowledge and expertise on a topic is welcome to propose and lead a class on that topic.

Most of the OLLI programs have an annual membership fee ranging from $35 to $235 and then require a nominal fee for the individual offerings. Membership often includes access to the university’s library system.

It doesn’t matter what your educational background is, membership is open to anyone over 50 interested in learning. And the fun part is there are no exams or grades to get anxious about! You just learn, pursuing whatever you want as deeply as you want.

If there is no OLLI program near you, there are likely still continuing education or other lifelong learning programs available. It's worth checking out - your brain will appreciate it!