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Studying in old age trains the brain

Especially those who have been active all their lives often feel like taking up studies again in old age. Even in old age, curiosity and thirst for knowledge do not diminish. That’s why many universities offer study programs for older students. But before the first lecture, you want to know:

Actually, retirement is considered a phase of well-deserved rest. But what do you do with all the time you now suddenly have at your disposal? If you feel like it, you can now occupy yourself with things that have always interested you. And where better to pursue these interests than at a university or college? If you are drawn to study again in your old age, you have a number of possibilities

As a senior citizen, there are various options for studying. On the one hand, there is the normal study program, which can still be completed in old age. Here, one has to pass all exams regularly and receives a degree. However, those who have already completed an entire professional life no longer need a degree that qualifies them for a profession, but are free to follow their interests.

Some universities have therefore introduced separate senior studies with their own structure. There are introductory events, smaller examinations and also certificates of achievement and graduation – but it has a different focus than a regular course of study.

Much more common, however, is participation in teaching as a guest student. Here, students attend lectures and are free to put together their own program according to their interests, as there is no predefined structure.

The universities themselves usually decide which form of study they offer for older students. Some universities themselves usually have their own coordinators for senior and guest auditor studies, who advise on the form and procedure.

You often find a high level of motivation among seniors: They want to stay mentally fit and agile, discover new things, continue their education and use their time wisely. They also enjoy meeting people with similar interests and making contacts.

The social component is particularly important because people come back again and again, some for more than 20 years. Friendships and social circles are formed. These people are lively, active and have lots of fresh ideas in their heads.

For some, it is also the fulfillment of a lifelong dream that was denied them in their youth. Some women, in particular, were not allowed to study in the past; they are now fulfilling this wish. Others were too busy in their professional lives and could not really study intensively. They are now making up for this, some with impressive determination.

How much contact and exchange there is between the groups is, on the one hand, of course up to the students themselves. On the other hand, certain structures of the universities must also be taken into account. If an event has limited places, young students are given preference, since they are working toward a professional degree. For this reason, not all events are always open to seniors. Many seminars and tutorials, as well as some subjects, such as medicine, are usually reserved for regular students.

Where older and younger students study together, there are very different dynamics. Sometimes there is a certain fear of contact on both sides, but if you consciously promote the exchange between old and young with intergenerational projects, it always works very well.

Guest auditor studies are open to everyone and can also be taken up without a high school diploma. However, a guest auditor course is also a course of study, so you should basically be the type for it.

This results in a very heterogeneous group of studying seniors, although academics are in a clear majority. For them, it is important to understand that some teaching content and perspectives have changed since the time of their own studies and to be open to it. Mostly, the very active in life come to retire rather bored and used to contributing to society. They look back on a successful career and cannot simply stop being active in old age. Studying offers them the opportunity to continue to live their lives to the full.