Should you go back to school after retirement?

Many women consider themselves life-long learners, even with their college days far behind. If you have a goal to keep learning well into retirement, you’re not alone. Whether it’s taking a course or two at the local rec center or enrolling in college classes online, there are more options than ever for retirees to get back in the classroom.

Enrolling in courses is an excellent way to keep your mind sharp, challenge yourself, and even expand your social network. 

Below we’ve rounded up a few reasons why we encourage women to pursue continuous education in retirement.

Stay healthy

Called the “use it or lose it theory,” experts believe that neglecting to participate in mentally challenging activities regularly may lead to loss of cognitive function in retirees.1 That’s why keeping your brain active in retirement is critical to living a fulfilling life and avoiding diseases like Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

Learning a new skill, language, hobby, or subject is an effective and healthy way to keep your mind engaged during retirement. Attending classes helps expand your mind, ask questions, think differently, and challenge yourself in an exciting and low-stakes way.

When exploring new educational opportunities, you may even find unexpected motivation or joy by putting your mind towards accomplishing something new.

Technology has never evolved at a more rapid pace than what we’ve seen over the last several years. Self-driving cars on the road, billionaires in space, robots in warehouses—it’s safe to say the future is here.

If you’re thinking about remaining in the workforce in some capacity during retirement, it may be helpful to stay on top of tech trends. Plenty of schools and online education platforms offer courses on understanding and mastering new technology-focused skills and developments.

You may even surprise yourself and enjoy learning about changes in the tech field. If this becomes the case, consider using this new skill set to launch an encore career, explore a passion project, or start a small business.

Build a fulfilling routine

Seasoned retirees know that one of the keys to happiness in retirement is building, and sticking to, a routine. The transition from a scheduled 40-hour workweek to no obligations is much harder than many new retirees anticipate. A schedule and routine give you purpose and help create fulfillment.

Rather than entering into days or weeks with nothing planned, consider continuing education as the foundation of your new routine. Attending a pottery throwing class every Tuesday and Thursday, for example, creates much-needed stability and structure. Building a routine that includes new educational opportunities gives you something to look forward to week after week as you expand your knowledge and develop new interests.

Achieve a personal goal

Everyone’s been on a different educational journey. You may have started classes to pursue a degree but never quite finished. Or maybe you’ve always regretted not majoring in something different.

After spending decades growing your career, you’ve likely even developed a passion for something entirely different.

Now’s your rare opportunity to work towards these desires or goals. Explore new areas of interest, and don’t be afraid to take a class or two. Spend your time in retirement seeking out new educational opportunities, especially if you haven’t had the time to pursue them in the past.

Improve your social network

Loneliness and isolation are two of the biggest threats to a retiree’s wellbeing and happiness. Curating a strong social network is critical, but it can be easier said than done.

Attending in-person educational courses or college classes gets you out of the house and opens the door to meeting new people with similar interests. These opportunities tend to bring together people from diverse backgrounds, ages, and walks of life, giving you the chance to connect with those you otherwise may never have met.

Save on tuition

Look for discounted classes for those 65 and older. Your local rec center or community-run courses may have senior discounts, as well as local school systems. In some cases, you may be able to attend a course for free. This, of course, will all depend on where you choose to attend classes and what types of classes you’re pursuing.

In today’s virtually-run world, there’s no limit to the number of classes you’re able to access online. While you won’t benefit from the same social interaction as an in-person course, you’ll have a vast array of diverse learning opportunities at your fingertips. Everything from free classes at Harvard to a no-upfront-cost technology education platform to start a second career like Bloom Institute of Technology is available to retirees like you.

Becoming a student in retirement

At Wealthcare for Women, I love seeing how clients choose to pursue learning opportunities in retirement. From mastering a new skill to graduating with another degree, it’s incredible what you can accomplish in retirement.

If furthering your education is something you’re excited about, I’d be happy to discuss how this decision may impact your retirement plan. Feel free to give me a call soon.


  1.  Effect of retirement on cognitive function: the Whitehall II cohort study