Technology is changing the world of education. The idea of online studies has made education open to everyone. Online education has made it possible for senior citizens to learn more about their favorite topics. There are online degrees for just about every field or specialty you can think of. That makes it easier for you to follow your passion and interests towards completing some courses and degrees that give you the knowledge and skills that you have been longing to learn. In this post, we will focus on some of the best online college courses for senior citizens.
Why go back to college after you’re 50?
Many people don’t have a plan when they are retiring. They have a lot of free time, and some don’t even know what to do with it. Free online courses for senior citizens are the best way to pass the time. They give you a chance to learn something new from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. There are thousands of courses in both new and old areas of interest, all that you need is an internet connection and a desktop computer.
Here are some of the other reasons why you should take an online course after 50.
1. Boost cognitive function
Cognitive function declines as we age. Learning can help boost it. An online course will keep your mind as active as possible. According to the Harvard Health blog, going to school after 50 can help your brain continue developing new cells. Puzzles and crosswords can also help you improve your working memory, but they don’t provide you with any other skill. Learning complex skills in your favorite course will give you better results than solving puzzles and crosswords.
2. Follow your interests
If you are planning to volunteer in a new field, open a business, or start a new career, the best way to gain the knowledge that you will need is taking an online class. It will give you a chance to learn some of the topics that you have been longing to learn for a long time. You get the skills that you need to start and learn a business. It can also equip you with the skills that you need when starting a new career.
3. Increase social interaction
An online course requires more than just staring at a screen at home. It requires you to participate in discussions with other students through emails and forums. Some courses may also require you to do group projects with your classmates through an online platform where you can meet face-to-face.
Taking an online class after you are 50 can help sharpen your social skills and improve self-confidence. That is because an online learning environment gives you a chance to meet new people and engage with them in stimulating conversations, discussions, and debates, no matter the age difference.
Free online college courses for seniors
There are several free online courses for seniors. Some of them will not give you college credit, but they can help you learn new skills. There are so many online courses, and choosing the best for you can be a challenge. Check out our post on what to consider before taking an online course.
By the year 2030, one in every five Americans will be over the age of 65 years. Most of these people are considering going back to school to learn new skills as a way of utilizing the much available free time. Many universities and colleges in the US are now finding new ways that they can use to accommodate this trend. Most of them are developing online degree programs that offer the knowledge and skills that many older Americans want to learn. Here is a list of some of the schools that are offering free or low cost online courses for senior citizens:
Accredited schools offering online college courses for senior citizens
1. Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University (MSU) has more than 40 different online programs. Among them are 25 master’s degrees, seven doctorates, five certificate programs, and six bachelor’s degrees. Both online and on-campus classes follow the same academic calendar schedule. Some of the coursework requires online students to participate in live sessions and engage with other students.
The university is offering free online college courses for senior citizens. Some of the online programs that are great for seniors include information systems, teaching, business, biology, and psychology. Local seniors who are above 60 years can take up to 18 credits per academic year for 100 percent free.
2. University of Washington
The University of Washington is offering 18 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. It is also offering hundreds of individual online courses that you can complete in less than one year. You can find its free courses on both Coursera and EDX. Some of the best free courses on Coursera include:
- Business English Communication Skills Specialization
- Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization
- Social Media Data Analytics
- Data Science at Scale Specialization
- Machine Learning Specialization
Most of these courses are asynchronous or self-paced. That means you can complete your classes online at any time. Taking these programs also lets you learn from the same professors and instructors that lead real-time classes on campus. They will also give you opportunities to interact with other students via discussion forums.
3. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities offers world-class online courses that allow you to learn at your own pace and space. It has 21 online certificate programs at both graduate and undergraduate levels. It also offers eight fully online master’s degrees and 17 fully online bachelor’s degree. The free online courses for seniors in this school are only available for Minnesota citizens.
The University of Minnesota also makes sure that its online programs are equal to those presented face-to-face on the campus. You will learn from the instructors and professors leading the on-campus classes. The certificate or transcript that you will receive after completing your course won’t indicate that you are an online student.
4. University of West Florida
The University of West Florida offers 17 fully online programs. Among these programs are six bachelor’s degrees that you can complete online via the web at your own space and pace. Both on-campus and online programs are of high quality, and your transcript and certificate won’t indicate that you are an online student. Online students also have a chance to interact with other online and on-campus students via discussion forums and email.
The University has a 100 percent tuition waiver for senior citizens above the age of 60 years. For you to get this waiver, you must be a Florida resident. Senior citizens above 60 years who are living outside Florida are eligible for Out-of-State Tuition Waiver. The Out-of-State Tuition Waiver covers up to 90 percent of the tuition fee.
5. Austin Community College
Austin Community College can help you save big on high-quality education. It has one of the most affordable and industry-approved degree plans that give you the credentials that you need to get a better job. The college has eight online certificate programs and 14 online associate’s degree programs. The areas of study include criminal justice, computer programming, philosophy, and journalism. All its online classes are asynchronous, which makes it possible for you to pace yourself while learning from the comfort of your home.
Austin Community College offers free online classes for senior citizens who are above the age of 65 years and residents in Texas. This group of people can take up to six credits per semester provided that they are meet the required minimum GPA.
Seniors who are above 65 years but not Texas residents can take an online course at a lower cost. The college is also offering scholarships and grants to senior citizens living outside Texas. You can also contact the college advisors to explore more about the education tax credits that you might be eligible for.
6. Grand Rapids Community College
Grand Rapids Community College offers 13 online programs. Most of these programs do not have on-campus requirements. These programs are also asynchronous, which means that you can set your own learning pace. Most of the learning will take place through Blackboard. It is an online environment that allows you to receive instructions from your professors, upload your homework, and connect with your classmates. It is among the best colleges for senior citizens as it offers them disability support services, academic advising, financial aid, scholarships, and occupational support.
7. Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College has over 60 different programs. Most of these programs are available for online students via the web. It started offering online learning over 20 years ago and now has one of the best formats for seniors who want to complete their courses as fast as possible. You can earn an online degree in a traditional career such as business, accounting, and retail management. The small business startup program, addiction counseling, dental assisting, paralegal studies, and insurance studies are the best programs for seniors who want to start a new career.
Most of the classes are asynchronous, allowing you to pace yourself and decide when you want to study. Apart from offering programs that many senior citizens are looking to pursue, Rio Salado College is also affordable. Maricopa County seniors residents pay$42.50 per credit. Other Arizona residents pay $85 per credit, while non-resident online students pay up to $241 per credit.