“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford
The most wonderful thing about the internet is that it’s opened up a world of possibilities and experiences to everyone. This is particularly exciting for seniors who want to be engaged and learn something new—which can actually make the mind 30 years younger and slow cognitive aging, according to research.
You’re never too old to learn something new and what better time to try your hand at a new skill and make new friends than now! Get your university degree, learn a new language or musical instrument, or pick up social media skills that to have some fun with your grandkids or even become the next TikTok sensation!
Get your university degree online
Taking university courses online isn’t just a way to keep learning and earn a degree, but also a wonderful way to socialize and connect with “classmates” of all ages during virtual classes and even online study groups.
Seniors who enroll in continuing education courses or university programs may be eligible for significant discounts and even free tuition. These savings apply to in-person and online learning.
For example, York University, waives the tuition fee for people over the age of 60, as does Brock University, and the University of British Columbia, to name a few.
George Brown College is one of the many schools offering a 20% senior discount for continuing education courses.
If you want to earn your university degree online, the cost and timeframe depend on a few factors such as the field of study and number of courses needed, and extra costs such as text books and supplies, which are not included as part of the tuition fee.
Typically, an undergraduate degree can takes 3 or 4 years to earn. The average tuition cost in Canada is $6,580, though that would be waived if you enroll in one of the universities offering free tuition for seniors.
The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) offered by the Government of Canada can also help you finance full-time education or training by allowing you to withdraw up to $10,000 from your RRSP.
You can find all the post-secondary education options in Canada using the Government of Canada Colleges and Universities online search.
Learn a musical instrument online
If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play the guitar, piano, or even the accordion; you can learn just about any musical instrument online.
The social aspect alone makes music lessons especially enjoyable because you get to connect and make beautiful music with others with a share interest through group classes or practice sessions.
If you’re the type who prefers to fly solo, you can take individual classes or even learn an instrument by watching YouTube videos. There are also numerous music apps available that you can use on your smartphone or tablet, too, if you’re app savvy!
A 30-minute music lesson typically starts at $25, depending on the instrument and the teacher. You can save money by taking group classes or purchasing a package of lessons. Many instructors and schools offer seniors discounts and a free introductory class.
Here are some options:
The Music Studio’s Virtual Seniors Connecting Through Music Program
Canada Music Academy
BestBeginnerGuitarLessons.com (also available on YouTube)
Learn a new language online
If you ever dreamed of learning a new language but thought you were too old, think again. There’s no critical period for language learning, according to experts, and learning a second language is in many ways easier for older adults than it is for youth.
Online group classes are loads of fun and there are plenty of apps available to help you learn and practice skills on your own, too. Babble and DuoLingo are just two popular options.
Online language classes are available through most colleges for around $350 and most offer senior discounts.
You can find information on classes offered by different schools at OntarioLearn.ca. Your local community center and public library may also offer language classes online.
Learn how to use social media apps online
Social media apps, like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok offer numerous benefits for seniors, according to research. Not only can social media help seniors stay connected to family and friends; it can also keep you learning and improve the way you live by giving you access to information on healthy cooking and lifestyle habits.
Seniors can learn how to use social media online thanks to free online workshops offered by local libraries and other organizations. Seniors Tech Services.ca, for instance, offers various workshops each month for Canadian Seniors on social media, as well as things like online safety, online shopping, and online dating for seniors.
If you have grandkids, having them teach you how to use social media is a great way to bond and continue to engage with them now and once it’s safe to get together in person again. (It’s also a great way to cinch your status as Coolest Grams/Gramps Ever!
Brock Tuition waiver for Seniors. Brock University. https://brocku.ca/retirees-association/tuition-waiver/
CEGEPs, Colleges and Universities Search. Government of Canada. https://tools.canlearn.ca/cslgs-scpse/cln-cln/rep-fit/cu/af.cu.clsea-eng.do
Cognitive Effects of Social Media Use: A Case of Older Adults. Kelly Quinn. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2056305118787203Continuing Education: Seniors. George Brown College. https://coned.georgebrown.ca/policies/seniors
Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP). Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/rrsps-related-plans/lifelong-learning-plan.html
Tuition fees for degree programs: Interactive tool. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-607-x/71-607-x2019011-eng.htm
Waivers and Payments by a Third Party: Academic Fee Waivers for Senior Citizens. York University. https://sfs.yorku.ca/fees/waivers