The University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is rapidly becoming Delaware seniors’ favorite go-to offers for the curious. Open to learners 50+, the program offers a remarkable array of skill learning opportunities and topical subjects.
Semester and half semester courses (without tests!) are available at locations in each of the three counties of Delaware. Additionally, there are several online and hybrid courses which were established and became a big hit during the COVID pandemic.
In Sussex County, live instruction takes place at OLLI’s Lewes location of the Trinity Faith Education Center on New Road, and in Ocean View at the town’s Community Center.
New in 2024 are Open Houses at each Delaware location. On January 8 from 10 am to 12 pm, participants or those interested in learning more can tour the classrooms and meet OLLI volunteers and other students. Catalogs and technical assistance in signing up will be available. The same will take place at the Community Center on January 10, 10 am to 12 pm.
OLLI Spring 2024 course catalogs are not available until mid December; however, you can preview course topics on OLLI’s website. Registration opens on January 4, and classes begin February a5. Classes are held once a week; some are 12 weeks while others are 5 weeks – some for the first five weeks, others starting mid semester.
Hundreds of courses are offered throughout the Delaware locations, although Delaware residency is not required. Subjects range everywhere from hobbies to science to literature to law or history. There are several courses on creative arts: painting, basket weaving, stained glass, woodworking and music to name a few.
Examples of courses offered in Lewes in the spring semester include beginner’s acrylic, Fun with Fabric, Mosaic wood art, Theatre Appreciation, Chorus, how to become a comedian, beginner’s Bridge or Mah Jongg, Building the Transcontinental Railroad, RV Travel or Beach Reads for Babies and Beyond.
In Ocean View, there are spring courses on public speaking, World War II, beginner’s and intermediate watercolors or painting.
If transportation is a factor, search the course offerings for hybrid courses (both in person or online) or online-only courses. For example, if a course taking place in Wilmington or Dover interests you, it may also be offered via virtual format.
New and exciting in 2024 are FREE online mini courses monikered “January Explorations between January 16 through January 26. Course descriptions are now available on OLLI’s website. Online links to January Exploration courses will be sent automatically to your email in early January once you’ve registered.
Samples of mini course topics include:
- Emily Dickinson
- Tips and How-to instruction for iPhones
- Philadelphia’s Gilded Age
- Architect Louis Kahn
- History of the English Language
- Seniors “Acting Up” (drama)
- History of the Eclipse
Registration for January Explorations is currently taking place. Participants need to set up a Udel student ID if you are new to OLLI.
In addition to course fees, which vary, an OLLI membership is required either per semester or for a full year (and yes, there are student benefits and student perks for OLLI membership). This can understandably be difficult for some to justify the expense, but financial assistance is available. An application is available online and an OLLI representative would set up a Zoom or in person interview to discuss.
If you know someone who could benefit from an OLLI course or membership, gift certificates are available in time for the holidays and January registration.
Active OLLI students have praised the program. During the drab days of winter ahead, why not try learning something stimulating while meeting other seniors and retirees?
UD’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program is planning nearly 300 classes this spring, with registration starting Jan. 5. Pictured here are members of OLLI’s Stained Glass Fundamentals class in Lewes, Delaware.
Learning, after all, prevents isolation and stimulates creativity and productivity. Some students even go on to become instructors themselves (there’s a mini course on how to pursue that in the January Explorations list). If you’ve got a talent or expertise that gives you joy in teaching others, then University of Delaware’s OLLI program could be both a source of your own learning and sharing your knowledge with others.
By Bridget FitzPatrick
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