For generations, teens in Europe have opted for a year off to adventure and see the world before starting their university educations – an interim commonly referred to as a "gap year". It turns out some American seniors are also taking a "gap year" between full-time work and retirement, but instead of avoiding campus, they are using the transition to take advantage of expanded adult education at our own colleges. There are some trends encouraging this, and one will not surprise you. The COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2021 AgeWave study, has led an estimated 68 million U.S. seniors to adjust their exit dates from their careers, professions, and businesses.
At the same time, universities are noticing that our country is growing older – by 2034, Americans aged 65 and older will outnumber children.
Adult learning, sometimes offered at nominal cost, is aiding pre-retirees and new retirees with ambitions to work in a new way, start a business, or embark on an encore career. A "gap year" may be a useful life step to help them decide what to do next.
Considering a gap year? Mass. state residents 60-plus can use a tuition waiver at any of Massachusetts’ public colleges when they enroll in undergraduate classes for at least three credits per semester, but the value of the waiver varies by school. For more information, visit the mass.edu office of student financial assistance website.
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