Never Too Old to Learn

The week of June 14 – 20 is designated as Adult Learning Week.   Let’s face it, we’re always learning, whether we realize it or not.   Every time we get a new cell phone or the latest electronic gadget must-have, we have to learn how to use it. Regardless of a particular reason, some folks just yearn to learn.

In 2007, Nola Ochs, at age 95, became be the oldest college graduate in the world. According to reports, she had spent the past 30 years working toward her degree. Imagine the effort and fortitude it must have taken to achieve her goal.   It’s fitting that she’s making history earning a history degree. Ever the achiever, Ms. Ochs was far from done with her education. In 2010, she earned her Master’s from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. She now plans to write a book at 100 years old. The previous record for the oldest graduate was a 90 year old who earned a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Several states (North Carolina included) waive tuition for older students attending public universities. Most, however, elect to pay their own expenses.   The average estimated percent of adults over 50 attending college is around 10%. Perhaps family or financial circumstances disrupted their educational goals, but the desire to earn a degree never went away.

92-ThinkstockPhotos-83113809-SFWWhy let age dictate whether you become a student again?   With the advent of on-line programs, and initiatives like the tuition waiver, get that college catalog out and find something that interests you.   Perhaps you didn’t get to finish high school and want to earn your GED. Or, maybe some continuing education classes are right up your alley. We’re rich in opportunities with all the schools in our area.

And don’t forget the arts. Forsyth County is blessed with a great arts community and classes are offered in many forms (from stained glass, quilting, basket weaving, drawing, pottery and so on). There are a number of options you might be interested in checking out in the arts arena. Whether there’s talent there or not, it’s the experience and learning to appreciate the skills that are the end result.   And who knows, Grandma Moses didn’t pick up a paintbrush until she was 76 years old. You may have an untapped talent waiting to be explored!

It is inspirational to learn about adults who have decided not to miss their chance at finishing school or who simply take classes for the enjoyment of them.   Their example proves that learning is not just for the young and not something to be ‘gotten through.’ I wonder who is going to break Nola’s record and be a 100 year old graduate.

Learning as an adult is about finding and taking the time. It’s about setting goals and seeing them through. It’s about learning how to do something you always wanted to try. It’s about self-fulfillment and discovery.

It’s about time that we all picked something new to learn. I’m game.   How about you?