I was on the train the other weekend when I got chatting to the man sitting next to me. He looked to be in his mid sixties. He said he has retired from the work force and is now using his time to study for a degree. When he finishes it he plans to continue studying at university. He was a very interesting person and full of energy. I was pleased we got talking.
In the 1970s almost all the students at uni with me had gone there after finishing high school. There were very few mature age students. When I returned to uni a few years ago I was surprised to see how many mature age students there were and some of them were in their fifties with the occasional one in his/her sixties.
If you are studying to get an academic or work related qualification the fees can be high. Fortunately there are loans which can help with fees. There are also a variety of scholarships available if you meet certain criteria. If you are on a Centrelink payment you may qualify to do some courses fee-free. From time to time there are special schemes to help people get qualifications at a reduced rate or free. Ask around, read information on community notice boards, check at your library and community house to find out what is available.
Education, in its broader sense, doesn’t have to be something formal that involves face-to-face lectures or online study. It can be any form of learning. These days there are numerous options for continuing your education. Some of them are very cheap or even free. Community houses and Neighbourhood centres and University of the Third Age run inexpensive classes on a variety of subjects.
The town library provides information on many topics. Sometimes it is possible to join a university or TAFE library, even if you are not studying there. It is worth asking if this is possible. Sometimes there is a fee but at other institutions it is possible to join for free. Ray Bradbury, a famous American science fiction writer said, ’I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it's better than college. People should educate themselves - you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I'd written a thousand stories.’
The internet has free online tutorials and courses on an amazing range of topics. The best way to get an idea of how much is available is to do a Google search. These days it is easier than ever before to access knowledge and information on topics of personal interest. I like this quote from Daniel J Boorstin, American historian and author, ‘Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.’
John Dewey, American education reformer, psychologist and philosopher said, ‘Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.’ Everyday we can learn so many things in different ways if we are open to seeing, listening, discussing and questioning what is happening around us. Fashion designer Lisa Ho said, I’m still learning. I don’t think your education ever stops. You have to have an open mind.’