Back To Campus in Early Retirement


I have friend who has been talking about retirement as an opportunity for ‘rewirement – that is to rewire, “our minds, our bodies, and our plans for years of continued growth ahead.” I agree, and as I’ve said before, it is a big, wonderful world and my goal in early retirement is to soak in all of its wonderfulness.  To that end, and on a bit of a last-minute whim, I just registered as a college student for a class this fall semester.

It’s been 30+ years since I’ve first enrolled on campus and I will acknowledge that is a bit of an awkward (but enjoyable) development for a few reasons:

First, I’m taking advantage of a “parents on campus” program at the same university that our son has just started as a freshman.  They allow parents of full-time students to take up to two undergrad classes a semester free-of-charge.  Classes can be for credit in a degree program, or you can just audit them (which is what I’m doing).

To be clear, while my son is at the same university, I am taking the class for my own interest – not to stalk him or drive him crazy.  Since there are over 6,000 students on campus on any given day, I don’t expect to run into him too often and I won’t pester him when I’m there.

Perhaps it’s additionally awkward since I am obviously old enough to be every student’s father on campus (and quite a lot of the faculty & staff).  Unlike my new classmates, I’m not working toward a degree or to prepare myself for a career.  Been there done that.    I’m back purely for the love of learning.

As a good friend pointed out recently, I’m not one to “let a little awkwardness stop you”, so I am expecting to really enjoy this new learning adventure.  I am registered in Introduction to Sociology 100, Section 2.  I enjoyed Sociology in high school, but never took it in college.  Some of the other classes I considered were Art History, Film Studies, and World History (from Ancient Times to the Renaissance).  The Sociology class worked out to be the best time  (9:55am start) meeting only two days of the week.

I also thought Sociology would be educational to immerse myself in learn more about differences in socioeconomic opportunity and the balance between individual freedom and responsibility to the collective good.  Since I spent my career building evil ‘big business’ for MegaCorps and politically I am a libertarian, I thought this class might challenge some of my heartless capitalist views.  🙂

Yesterday was my first day of freshman-level classes since 1984 and I had to laugh that when I approached the university’s elegant, signature arches (pictured above) a young student strolled through wearing a “Reagan/Bush 1984” campaign T-shirt.  Perhaps I am not as awkwardly out of place as I might have thought!

Update: Going back to campus is already paying off financially.  The class is free and I was able to use my student ID to get into the university football game for free.  Saved $8!  I can’t wait to see what other student discounts I can get. I heard with a university email address you can get Amazon Prime without a subscription fee.  Going to check that out now!

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28 thoughts on “Back To Campus in Early Retirement

  1. Good for you! And i would have LOVED a Libertarian student with actual corporate America experience in one of my classes when I was studying International Political and Economic Development….the best part about school anyways is the debate/discussion (too bad we don’t have more of it). Let us know what you learn as a student AFTER having those experiences (it was awesome to have two Jesuit professors debate Capitalism vs Socialism (from the views of Liberation Theology) in one of my classes as they relate to lifting people out of poverty….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – the in-class seminar discussion may be robust. I’ll be careful not to over step my bounds as there are ‘real’ students needing to learn the material and get their credits!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, love the part about the Reagan/Bush shirt! That’s awesome – congratulations on going back to college! I think school will be much more enjoyable when you’re taking classes because you want to instead of the old “what do I need to take to graduate and go out and get a good job?”.

    I’ll actually be going back to my alma mater in a couple weeks, but only because a handful of my college buddies get together once a year to be the old people at the college bars. 🙂 Your mission sounds a little more on track than mine.

    Excited for you – keep us posted!

    — Jim


  3. That’s great. We took a recent campus tour and while in the art department we met a student, a man in his mid fifties taking some classes. You are never to old to learn. Love the “Reagan/Bush 1984” t-shirt. This should make for some interesting stories along the way. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a bit awkward to be back on campus, but imagine I will find some other ‘non-traditional’ students like myself that I can meet up with. Thanks for the well wishes, Brian –


    1. I posted on a university ‘parents network’ Face Book page to see if other people were taking classes, but only one person responded so far. Others were interested in hearing how they could do it themselves.


    1. Yes – I teach corporate strategy & innovation classes at a number of universities and companies each quarter, but I haven’t had the experience of being a student in the back of a college classroom for a long time! I think it would be right up your alley!


  4. What an awesome program! I enjoyed college, and not just the partying aspect of it. It would be nice to go back someday to take some more classes. I’d be interested in doing some analytical reading in English classes or some more psychology instruction.


    1. Psychology would be really interesting to study again, wouldn’t it. There are a lot of classes that I would look at through a completely different lens now than I did when I was 18 or 20 years old.


  5. I think your decision to take a class – and the choice of your class are great! I taught at the college level for the last four years and I had two adults audit my classes during those times. They were terrific and the other students really enjoyed what they added to the course too. I’ll be interested to see what you think and how you connect some of your learnings in future posts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great to hear – I’m still feeling quite awkward about it. Hopefully, I will be able to contribute something without being a nuisance to everyone involved! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kudos to you to keep learning! Being open to growing, learning, changing, listening throughout life is so important – a lot of people seem to get to an age and decide that they know everything, they close themselves off to new ideas and don’t challenge themselves to learn.

    Huge decision to go back to school, I hope you’ll share with us any interesting things that you come across or learn from it.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! How lucky you are to be able to take courses! Sounds like tremendous fun. There aren’t many times in life where we can have great debates and conversations with lots of different perspectives.

    And I LOVE this concept of rewirement! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I purposely picked this class because I knew it would challenge by thinking on the rights of the individual versus the needs of society. I am already reading the first chapter of my textbook!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Good for you taking advantage of that opportunity. Check for a local version of Life long Learning as well. Ours is called OLLI, but I’m not sure if they all are. Here it is only $80 a semester for all the seminars, classes being offered. I’ve also gotten some courses from The Great Courses, merely for the love of learning. And it fits my introvert nature, versus campus courses. It’s fun to learn just for the sake of learning….although I did get asked by someone how I would “use my leaning”! They didn’t get the concept of learning for fun at all.


  9. That’s really cool! I’d love to do that once my kids get a bit older and I’ve got a bit more time on my hands.

    When I was in college I distinctly remember the “older” students that were auditing. They made the classes a lot better by participating and and sharing their POV.

    I hope you’ll do a follow-up on this because I’d love to hear how it went.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a lot of people have the time in the day to be able to do this when they’re working full-time or have kids at home. We are fortunate to be able to try something different. I will definitely punch out and update later in the semester.


  10. That’s an amazing idea! I never actually thought about it! And in both Italy (my target country for retirement) and Switzerland (my current country) universities are almost free!

    I’ll definitely take a look at physical learning opportunities (not just coursera or edx kind) when FIRE will hit me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be great to move to a place where universities are free. I imagine that a lot of non-traditional students are in class there. If you look online there are many US state universities and some organizations that allow retired folks to take college classes. I don’t imagine that many people actually take advantage of what is offered.


  11. Getting Amazon Prime without a subscription fee is correct! I loved being a student and took advantage of so many free and discounted offers, it was great 🙂

    That’s great that you’re focusing on continual learning. I LOVE learning new things and my company even pays up to $2500 for a class that I want to take. I’ve always wanted to be multi lingual.. Hmm..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is great that your company offers such a benefit. I would definitely take them up on it if you can. Learning a new language would be a perfect thing to go back to university for. My son is taking Japanese classes right now – even though he took Spanish in grade school, junior high, and high school.


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