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Retirement: Going back to school

PUBLISHED: 15:12 07 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:11 03 August 2015

Adult education - indulge your interests

Adult education - indulge your interests

(c) Ableimages

A million classes are currently taking place across Britain specifically for mature students. So with that most valuable of assets in retirement - time - why not join one?

It’s been around 50 years since you last saw a classroom. Why would anyone fresh into retirement even dream of going back to school? Ask people taking part in the million classes currently taking place across the UK specifically for mature students and you’ll get some interesting answers.

Learning when you’re older can be a joy, done just for the sake of expanding your knowledge or indulging a passion without the pressure to impress anyone or make the mark to get a job at the end of it. It’s a great way to meet new people with a common interest, satisfy your curiosity or just get out of the house. It could even pave the way to a whole new career just when you thought you were done with work.

The vast majority of mature students study for the pleasure of it. Lectures, workshops and exams give focus to a life of leisure that can be extremely difficult to adjust to after spending decades in the workplace or raising children and keeping home. A regular appointment keeps one in a routine, while studying keeps the mind sharp, improves memory function and can even help in the fight against degenerative problems such as Alzheimer’s.

While many retirees take on a degree course, taking advantage of the easy access to education that perhaps didn’t exist in their youth, a time-consuming, book heavy, long-term course with exams may not be for all of us. And indeed so varied are adult education classes now that they encompass every field of knowledge.

Perhaps you love to holiday in Italy. Why not learn conversational Italian? You have a love of plants but don’t know how to design your garden. Perhaps take a day course in planting, or even study for a National Garden Scheme-recognised qualification in horticulture.

For hands-on students, everything from painting to massage to bricklaying can be studied. And for those eager to get the old blood pumping, dance classes from salsa to country or even scuba diving or rock climbing might float the more adventurous boat.

For those interested in in-depth study, perhaps leading to a degree course, it is advisable to take a short access course before enrolment. This will help you decide if the full course and its necessary demands are for you – whether you’re ready to immerse yourself in full-time learning and whether you’ve got the time to make the most of your chosen subject.

If the world of computers and the internet has left you behind, a short digital course will help any field of study. Most, if not all, study now takes place with the use of PCs and not knowing how to access key information for your course could signal the end of your forays into modern education. An added bonus is your inter-connectedness with loved ones will be boosted online.

Learning after retirement is never a waste. Whether you end up proudly displaying a diploma on your mantelpiece, find a new hobby or make new friends, there are rewards for every mature student out there.

Finding a course in Herts

Herts’ further education colleges offer a wide range of courses and classes for mature students, as does the University of Hertfordshire (herts.ac.uk).

The University of the Third Age (u3a.org.uk) specialises in courses for the retired and semi-retired.

Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS) runs courses and its website (hertsdirect.org/services/edlearn/hafls) has links to other course providers.

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