Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.

Why lifelong learning matters.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” according to William Butler Yeats. And we agree!

Graduation wasn’t the END of learning – it was just the BEGINNING of the knowledge you’ll gain throughout the rest of your life. Let’s look at six ways to light this fire!

1. Look into your library 

A lot of people think that libraries are old school. But the reality is that libraries are a rich resource for both digital and IRL assets.

When you walk in the doors of your local library, you can usually find an array of activities including book clubs, author meet-and-greets, chess clubs, genealogy groups, hobby meet-ups, crafting classes, tax prep help and a wide range of affinity groups. And, oh yeah, you’ll also see those things we call books – for some readers, there’s nothing like the feel of paper between their fingers and the smell of a crisp book jacket.

Even if you prefer digital media, your public library card is the passport to an immeasurable amount of resources you can access right from your favorite device. Streaming services for music and movies can take a bite out of your bank account, so it’s smart to get your favorite songs, e-books, audiobooks, movies – and more – for free from your library.

2. Listen up

Podcasts are a fantastic way to learn new subject matter, stay on top of political news and keep abreast of industry trends. Audiobooks are an entertaining way to broaden your horizons – and if you listen to audiobooks while you’re working out, it’s a triple threat for your body, mind and soul.

Immerse yourself in historical fiction, imagining what it was like to be a part of humanity-changing events. Travel the continents through the vivid stories of those who have gone before you. Look at the world through someone else’s eyes. Be swept up in a story that transports you beyond your everyday life. Pop in those earbuds and hit play – you won’t regret it!

3. Continued career development 

Getting involved in your industry’s leading trade associations provides ongoing education online and in person. As you grow in your career, you can give back to your field by serving as a guest speaker at local events or a subject matter expert for publications. You can also develop great industry contacts that will help you throughout your career.

4. Make new connections

Learn a new skill and get to know others with similar interests when you sign up for a hip-hop or ballroom dancing class, cooking seminar or golf lessons. Stretching your mind, while widening your social circle, can improve your health and contribute to a longer life.

5. Get moving

Studies continue to show that physical and mental activity can improve your brain’s plasticity and possibly even delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s – especially when learning something new. Whether you look into mastering a different sport or pursuing a less-physical interest like knitting, you’ll keep those synapses firing.

6. Serve others

We talk a lot about service in our blog posts, but that’s because we know the quality of graduates who have come through UIS. One way to make a difference in the lives of others is to volunteer for activities that will stretch your mind and body. Maybe you’ve never held a hammer before, but want to help families experience homeownership – Habitat for Humanity is a perfect way to develop a new skill, while supporting the American Dream of owning a home.

Lifelong dividends

Adults who are consistently engaged in active learning will find it easier to go back to school for an advanced degree or transition into a new job. Keeping those memorization and critical thinking skills sharp will help you be ready for whatever new challenge comes your way.

You’ll also pave the way for enriched relationships as you spend time with colleagues, friends and family. Your increased insights will make you more interesting to talk to and you’ll expand their knowledge base, too.

We’d love to hear what you’re up to! Tag us when you share your lifelong learning activities on social media, so we can all support each other.