What are the Best (even FREE) Colleges for Older Learners?

Advice For Seniors

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Updated: February 23, 2020

Did you know that Julia Child didn’t write her first cookbook until she was 50? And did you know that Ray Kroc didn’t start the McDonald’s franchise until he was 52?

As you face your golden years, it is important to realize that your best years may be ahead of you. Instead of sinking into your favorite chair and turning on the 24-hour-news channel, why not expand your horizons by taking college classes?


You may have many excuses for why this isn’t a good idea.

Excuse #1: College is just for twenty-somethings.

Reality: College is for anyone who wants to learn.

Excuse #2: I can’t afford to take college classes.

Reality: If gaining knowledge is what’s important to you, you can do that for free.

Excuse #3: My mobility issues make it hard to leave the house.

Reality: You can earn entire degrees without leaving the comfort of your home by taking online classes.

Excuse #4: I’m too old to take college classes.

Reality: You are never too old to learn something new.

You are out of excuses! It’s time to think about what you want to do with the last half of your life.


What are the Best (even FREE) Colleges for Older Learners?

Image Credit: 472301 / Pixabay

For degree-seeking seniors:

Maybe you always regretted never finishing your college education. Money, family, or other life events may have kept you from obtaining your degree.

If you want to walk across the stage at a college graduation ceremony, you may struggle to find institutions that allow you to do that for free. We found an online list of colleges that may offer free college classes for degree-seeking seniors, but make sure you talk with a college counselor at one of these institutions before enrolling in any classes.

The American Association of Retired Persons also created a list of colleges that were especially “senior-friendly.” These institutions offered flexible schedules, regional accreditation, and were said to be affordable. The institutions on the list were also found to be accommodating to non-traditional students.

In the top three were The University of Maryland, Excelsior College (in Albany), and Harvard (yes, that Harvard.) Check out the complete list, and if you find that Harvard really is affordable, let us know.

Probably your best bet for finishing your college degree is to search for an affordable online institution that specializes in your field of study. Taking classes online may make it more difficult for you to have your moment of glory as you walk across the graduation stage, but perhaps you can rent a cap and gown and take photos with your diploma.


For non-degree seeking seniors:

If you don’t care whether or not you earn a diploma, the world is your oyster.

High-quality educational opportunities have never been available to everyone for free until recent years. Thanks to the internet, MOOCs are readily available to seniors and other self-driven learners. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses.

A great source in which to learn about the online courses available is OpenCulture. This organization searches the web for free, high-quality online courses. Most of these classes can be audited for free, but you won’t receive college credit for the course.

OpenCulture connects you with MOOCs available from a variety of websites, but this is not the only source out there. Also visit, edx.org. This website organizes online courses in six categories: computer science, language, data science, business, engineering, and humanities.

The classes are taught by professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berkely, Harvard, Standford, and the University of Texas.

The best thing about these online courses is the vast array of subjects that are offered. You can teach yourself a new, marketable skill by taking free online classes. Do you want to become a website designer at 60? You can make that happen. Teach yourself the necessary skills and then become a freelancer.

It’s an exciting time to be alive. Take advantage of all that is out there for you and keep on learning!