I encourage everyone to seek the gift of learning and growing all of their days. I firmly believe that we never “arrive” at some pinnacle of learning and understanding, but instead, we are to be lifelong learners at any age. The wise civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” This journey of being a lifelong learner may look different for each of us; as such, I will never suggest that someone must follow a specific path to gain that experience. However, I want to shed light on some wonderful learning options and opportunities for mature adults who may think that their time in education had come to a close years ago.
Being a lifelong learner comes with many wonderful, proven benefits. According to a blog in “Family Matters: In-Home Care,” it reveals four benefits of lifelong learning for seniors and older adults. It listed that it improves cognitive health, increases positive emotions, helps promote social connection, and keeps activity levels up. While it’s clear that lifelong learning is essential for older adults, many may wonder how to facilitate it. They recommend cooking new recipes, planting a garden, or even engaging in working with new technology to open the door to these benefits (familymattershc.com/
Here in our wonderful state of Oklahoma, there are some exceptional opportunities for the 50+ to further their education and life experience. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, better known as OLLI, was founded by Bernard Osher. He wanted to promote the idea of lifelong learning by offering noncredit courses with no assignments or grades to adults over the age of 50. Locally, OLLI programs can be found at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University; however, they are not affiliated. Both programs promote lifelong learning and personal growth that keeps seniors active and social, and these courses can range from a one-time course to longer, more involved courses. More specifically, OLLI at OSU noncredit courses offer continuing education in a variety of topics such as art, literature, languages, fitness, food, music, writing, history, science, and more. They also have special events, lectures, day trips, other travel opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, and social activities to enrich an individual’s quality of life. (The Oklahoma Senior Journal, Fall/Spring 23-24 issue)
Both OLLI at OU and OSU require an annual membership to be able to enroll. OLLI at OU offers their annual membership for just $55, and it is valid from July 1 through June 30 of the next year. Classes for OLLI at OU are held at the Norman campus, in the Thurman J. White Forum building. To learn more about OLLI at OU’s activities and upcoming classes and events, you can join their mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (405) 325-3488 with your information.
Additionally, OLLI at OSU offers two options for membership which are an “A La Carte” annual membership for $40 and a “Premium” annual membership for $200. Both memberships are also valid from July 1 through June 30 of the following year as well. For more information regarding membership at OLLI at OSU, you can contact Robbin Davis, the OLLI Director, at (405)-744-5868 or at email@example.com. Classes for OLLI at OSU occur in the fall, spring, and summer across four Oklahoma locations (Stillwater, Tulsa, Bartlesville, and Oklahoma City ). In Oklahoma City, the courses are available at the Epworth Villa Retirement Community, (nonresidents are welcome), and the Senior Health and Wellness located at 11501 N Rockwell Ave, Oklahoma City, OK. Courses are also available online. Seniors can apply for assistance at both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University for need-based scholarships to help assist with membership fees. OLLI programs can be found all over the U.S. at various participating college campuses, so I encourage you to share this wonderful opportunity with loved ones who live across the country. (pacs.ou.edu/olli ) (education.okstate.edu/
I truly hope that this information inspires someone to reignite the fire of being a lifelong learner. Whether you take on cooking a new recipe or become an OLLI member at OU or OSU, I know that step will be something that will benefit your mental and physical health. And remember, you are never too young or too old to take that step towards a more enriched life by feeding your curiosity, learning something new, adding a spark to your life, and making new friends.
Robin Gunn is the Publisher/Editor of the Oklahoma Senior Journal, Since 1993 and a columnist for the Oklahoman & a partner in the Second Half Expo / Life e-newsletter along with the on Air Host of The Rise & Shine OSJ Radio Hour on every Saturday @ 9:05am on 96.9FM The Eagle 🦅 (the Dave Ramsey Network!). Robin can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at: (405) 816-7889.