October weather always reminds me of school. I know that schools have been in session for a month – or even more in some areas of the country. But October brings cooler weather, a visible start to the change of seasons, homecoming football games and a last relaxing stretch of time before the holiday crush is upon us, followed immediately by the grayness of winter. October is colorful. October is energetic. And it always reminds me of going to school.
This all came to mind today, not just because it is the beginning of October, but because I was searching for a specific YouTube video and quite by accident came upon the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The program intrigued me, and as I investigated further, I discovered it is not only at JHU, but has outlets in all 50 states! I check my alma mater (Temple University – Go Owls) and, sure enough, there it was. It is a program for retired and semi-retired adults. No tests, no notes, no papers. Just learning.
Learning is such an important part of retirement. It keeps us from growing stagnant. It keeps all those neurons and synapses in our brain firing and creating new connections instead of atrophying. Learning is more fun the second time around because you can study exactly what you want, and don’t have to deal with any of those required courses that didn’t exactly keep you on the edge of your seat in class. Learning is social. You will be meeting a lot of like-minded individuals who could end up being long-term friends. Learning might also lead to a second career. It enables you to follow your passion, at your own pace, with your own specific goals in mind.
Learning is crucial to your physical, mental and social well-being. Almost every college or university has some sort of life-long learning program. Many school districts offer a variety of classes through adult night school. Libraries have a multitude of programs and services designed specifically for adult learners. If mobility is an issue, there are hundreds of free online college courses covering everything from anthropology to web design. It you want to study it, it is available to you from multiple sources. So take advantage. Surprise your kids and grandkids with your new-found information and skills. But most of all, enjoy yourself. Have fun. Explore. Make retirement the most exciting time of your life!