Keeping it classy after 60—with free tuition at Arkansas’ public universities
Many moons ago, you stepped into a high school counselor’s office and were told, Why don’t you pick a career path that’s a little more practical? Not that zookeeper, karate phenom or rock star weren’t entirely impractical, but a degree in marketing or accounting or communications was more likely to not give your parents an embolism. Fast forward a few decades or five, and now—well, you’ve got time to spare. And thanks to a certain provision in the Arkansas constitution (Act 678 from 1975, which says anyone 60 or older can get their tuition waived at any state-supported school), you can finally take the classes that you’ve always wanted to take. Guitar (UALR)? Comics studies (Henderson State)? Scuba diving (U of A)? There’s the caveat, of course, that you’ve got to wait until the last day of registration before you can sign up; however, with as many classes as our public universities offer, there’s no shortage of opportunities. (Most public universities have a website dedicated for senior students—for example, UALR’s is ualr.edu/campuslife/ntsp/over-60. However, when we noticed there wasn’t a centralized list, we opted to make our own. Check it out below!
Teach It Forward
Every student needs a teacher. So if you’ve got the skills, why not pass them on to another generation of learners?
Our House: Workforce Development and Early Childhood Development Programs
Volunteer at Little Rock’s Our House, a shelter that serves the homeless in Central Arkansas, to aid adults with GED prep, job-seeking skills and financial literacy. Or change a child’s life by pledging your time to become a role model for the center’s youngest clients. (ourhouseshelter.org/volunteer)
Literacy Action of Central Arkansas: Project LIFT
Project LIFT (Literacy Inspiring Family Transformation) is the only program in the state that delivers weekly, hands-on learning opportunities aimed at families. By volunteering, you’ll help both adults and their children develop reading skills by facilitating learning sessions for the parents and educational activities for the kids. The families will even receive free children’s books each week to help start a home library. Project LIFT’s fall program runs Sept. 11 – Oct. 16 at Dee Brown Library in Little Rock. (Email program director Sarah Standridge at firstname.lastname@example.org; 501-372-7323)
AR Kids Read
One hour a week—that’s all it takes to help not one, but two students increase their reading comprehension. Volunteer tutors will partner with one of 48 central Arkansas schools to work with first, second and third-grade students in one-on-one, 3o minute sessions each week from October to March. (arkidsread.org/volunteer)
Volunteers in Public Schools: Little Rock School District
Listen, we’re words people. Numbers? They scare us—and many struggling students in the Little Rock School District feel the same way. But math doesn’t have to be scary, especially when you’ve got a buddy and a tutor to help you learn the fundamentals through some flashcards and games. Math averse? Consider becoming a mentor, where you’ll offer guidance and an open ear. (vipslrsd.org)
Foster Grandparent Program
You’re never too old to start volunteering. In fact, if you’re 55 or older, you’re the perfect age to be a foster grandparent to at-risk children, or youth with special needs, who could benefit from having a tutor, a mentor and a friend just like you. (volunteerar.org/foster-grandparents)
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