Want to go back to school? Consider these things

Metro Newspaper Service

The picture of a traditional college student is one in his or her late teens or early 20s. However, a deeper look may reveal that college student demographics are more diverse than one might imagine. In fact, senior citizens can rest assured that if they plan to return to the classroom, they’re likely to find students around their age.

According to the senior citizen resource Elder Guru, just over 0.3 percent of university students are over 65. Even though that is a low number in the grand scheme of things, it is an indication that seniors have a presence on college campuses. And that number is expected to rise. Universities are increasing efforts to include seniors as important parts of their student bodies. Here are some things seniors considering going back to school may want to know.

· Incentives are available. Many schools are looking to expand their elder student body populations by making it easier for them to go to school. That means seniors may be able to attend for little to no cost through tuition waivers and discounts. Speak with an admissions officer about your options.

· Lay the foundation for a new career. A survey from the Rand Corporation found that 39 percent of workers age 65 and older who were currently employed had previously retired at some point. Going back to school may provide a foundation for new skills that can make it easier to advance in a second career. Heading back to classes also can help people stay competitive in a current job.

· Engage and socialize. Going back to school provides seniors with an opportunity to engage with their peers and younger students. Returning to school may expose older adults to new experiences, technologies and customs they may otherwise never have enjoyed.

· Embrace the excitement of a new environment and its challenges. Heading back to college can be challenging, which is something seniors looking for mental stimulation may enjoy. Senior Finance Advisor reports that heading back to school and lifelong learning has been linked to better health, improved financial situations and even a reduced risk of dementia.

· Staying informed. Going back to school can enable seniors to stay technologically informed and learn about movements and other factors that are helping to shape the modern world.

Seniors have many reasons to return to the college classroom, and such a pursuit can pay numerous dividends.