Learning for Life

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Author: Alyssa Craig

Education in the most formal sense of the word typically ends after years of lectures, homework, essays, and exams. We receive a piece of paper indicating we have fulfilled the requirements set out and we are sent into the world to chase our dreams. But the truth is, education can, and should be, a lifelong endeavor and should not be limited to our youth. There are many ways to keep learning throughout our lives that could enhance our careers and enrich our lives.

Here are just a few of the many opportunities you can take advantage of to continue learning throughout your life:

Distance Learning – Many colleges and universities now offer courses through their distance learning programs. What this means is the classes you take will most likely be online, rather than in a classroom. For adults, distance learning has many advantages:

    • Flexibility in both time and location since it is all online

    • An opportunity to learn the most current information available

    • Allows the learner to go at their own pace

Distance learning programs are a great option for working adults looking to advance in their careers or enter a new field.

  • Community Classes – Have you ever thought “I would really love to learn French” or “I wish I were a better cook.” There is no reason why you should not pursue learning in a new subject matter. Community colleges and community centers offer a variety of classes to the general public such as art, foreign languages, photography, cooking, and music. If there is a skill you wish to improve or acquire, consider looking into what your community college or community center has to offer.

  • Craft and Home Improvement Store Courses – If you have a hobby or a project you are wanting to learn how to do, many craft and home improvement stores offer workshops and classes to the general public. Check their schedules for a chance to learn something new or improve a skill you already have.

  • Private Lessons – While this does take away the social factor a community or public class could offer, private lessons are available on a wide variety of subjects and skills. Search the internet or ask friends and family members for recommendations if there is a talent you would like to develop. This gives you a bit more variety of classes to take, rather than depending solely on what your local college or community center offer.

Continuing learning as an adult and participating in such classes leads to a lot of benefits such as an opportunity to get out of the house and meet new people, gaining more information on a passion you already have, or even inspiring the children in your life to improve their education. In addition, learning throughout your life can have positive effects on your mental and emotional health, too.

Mental Health

Research has shown it is healthy for our brains to have continued mental stimulation throughout our lives. In fact, lifelong learning has been proven to slow the decline of cognitive function we all experience with age. It can also help decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. More specifically, it has also been shown that learning a second language can help increase your attention, improve your memory and even lead to physical growth in parts of your brain!

 Emotional Health

Beyond having a healthy brain, continued learning can help you to enjoy better overall emotional health. When we learn something new, our brains adapt to store this new information. This can translate directly to adapting in our lives. If we are used to adjusting to changes in information, we will be that much more prepared for changes in our lives. As difficulties present themselves, having the skill set of learning new things will help us to conquer challenges in life, as explained in this article. Having a new hobby or skillset can also assist in reducing stress, offer an opportunity to connect with others with similar interests, and lead to the development of fun relationships. Overall, this will lead to improved self esteem and an all inclusive sense of self fulfillment.

 So whether you are looking to become more marketable in your career, take up a new hobby, or just do something fun and healthy for your brain, actively look for ways to continue to learn throughout your life. The benefits far outway any cost and will help you to live a full, well-rounded life.

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