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Senior Living
Jan 30, 2023

Lifelong Learning Adds to the Good Life

Sponsored Content provided by Michela Hochschild - Director of Marketing, Riverlights Living


Travel! Grandchildren! Hobbies! These are the typical delights of retirement. But, rising among them is the joy of lifelong learning.   


In Wilmington, the opportunities for learning in retirement are rich.  Chief among them is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, at UNCW. OLLI programs are funded through the Bernard Osher Foundation, and provide non-credit, non-graded courses aimed at adults 50 and older. Its network includes 121 college and university programs across the country.  The “non-credit, non-graded” part also contributes to the classes being available for a tiny fraction of today’s typical college tuition.


UNCW’s OLLI program is robust. Topics cover a wide variety: from The Social Commentaries of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone to Mistresses in Victorian Literature. The 2022 Fall semester includes art classes that dive into the Baroque period and Impressionism.  Creative writing classes explore writing personal essays or a full autobiography.  An economics course, The Federal Reserve and Monetary Policy, foreign language classes (Basic German and Italian for Travelers), a series of classes about Key Pacific Battles of World War II, even a class for Mahjongg beginners. The variety is impressive! And the cost?  Classes are generally four to six sessions and range from $30 to $75. 


The full OLLI catalog for the Fall 2022 semester is 40 pages long, with special events and courses in philosophy and religion, society and culture, music and math.  The catalog offers out-of-classroom opportunities, as well, including two trips to Bald Head Island to explore its maritime ecosystem, lessons in Stand Up Paddleboarding and kayaking excursions. 


OLLI also sponsors Shared Interest Groups, for people who want to dive deeper into various topics or activities; PLATO (People Learning Actively Together), an eclectic series of lectures led by outside speakers and experts; Women on Wednesdays, a forum for women to meet and discuss meaningful topics; Sea and Coffee, weekly explorations into the fields of science and the environment; Special Interest Forums, Discussion Groups, and a Wine (tasting) Society. Even opportunities for international group travel. Indeed, OLLI is a valuable reason why Wilmington offers “the good life” to retirees. 


But OLLI isn’t the only outlet for lifelong learners. Cape Fear Community College also offers classes for retirees in community and personal enrichment. Community Enrichment courses are designed to meet specific requests and therefore change with the interests and the needs of area residents. So, if there’s a topic you’d like to explore, let them know. 


Cape Fear’s Personal Enrichment classes consider personal health and wellness, computers and technology, recreational sports, foreign and sign languages, heritage arts and crafts, boating safety, visual and performing arts, home and garden, and much more.  For more information about Cape Fear Community College’s offerings, call 910-362-7264.


Both programs, OLLI and Cape Fear Community College, are also happy to hear from retirees who have expertise to share.  Use that same number above to offer your teaching skills to CFCC. Proposals to teach courses at the OLLI can be submitted here.


More of an independent learner?  Check out these lifelong learning kits from the New Hanover County Library.  Their Library of Things includes lessons in ukulele, birdwatching, sewing and other needle crafts (instrument, binoculars and sewing machine included!).  And, of course, there’s the new streaming service, Masterclass, that, for just $15 a month, allows you to learn from the world’s most inspiring leaders, artists and icons. 


But learning independently, while expanding one’s horizons and keeping the brain active, misses a key, if ancillary, benefit of learning in retirement -- especially for those moving to a new area: a chance to connect with peers, make new friends and keep a more active social calendar. 


Finally, while the courses offered here are affordably priced, they can be paid for through a 529 plan, the tax-advantaged education savings accounts offered by states and educational institutions. North Carolina also offers residents a tax break for contributing to the state’s plan. While typically considered for children’s or grandchildren’s education, the plans can also fund your own lifelong learning.  What a bonus!


While certainly Einstein had a brain unlike any other, he spoke for many lifelong learners when he said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” So, get out there and add lifelong learning to the benefits of your retirement.

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