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Set your mind to something new this coming year

No matter your age, expanding your mind through learning is always a worthy pursuit, and in this season of New Year’s resolutions, there’s never been a better time to try your hand at something new. Thankfully, in our “knowledge corridor,” local resources abound for educational opportunities.

Greenfield Community College (GCC) offers many options for learners who are over age 50. One such option is the Senior Symposium, a collaborative effort between GCC and area citizens to provide a way for area seniors to continue their education in a format that best suits their needs, interests, and resource. Inspired by the motto, “you’re never too old to learn something new” these programs take place during daytime hours at the GCC Downtown Center (270 Main Street, Greenfield), sessions are only $10 per person, and financial assistance is always available.

The first workshop in the winter 2018 series will be an encore presentation of “The ‘Deep History’ of Franklin County,” led by Professor Richard Little. According to the website description, “the ‘deep history’ of Franklin County and vicinity, from Poet’s Seat to deep holes in the Connecticut River bed, is a geological story of drifting continents, towering mountains, volcanoes, and continental ice sheets over a half billion years.” Additional topics this winter include jazz, chocolate in Colonial America, and a historical look at footwear.

To learn more, call Mark Rabinsky, the Director of Workforce Development and Community Education, at 413-775-1611 or visit the Senior Symposia website.

If you’re interested in obtaining an associate or bachelor’s degree or enrolling in a certificate program, consider tuition waivers for seniors. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance offers Categorical Tuition Waivers, including those for people over the age of 60; additional qualification requirements apply. Contact the financial aid office at the institution you are attending or plan to attend for application requirements or deadlines. You can also call the Office of Student Financial Assistance at (617) 391-6070 to obtain more information.

The Franklin Hampshire Career Center also offers job search strategy workshops to support vocational goals for those in Franklin and Hampshire counties. Call 413-774-4361 or vist their website.

If you’re currently working, your employer may offer college education assistance. You typically do not need to pay federal income tax on the first $5,250 of assistance, and many employers will cover expenses for studies that are not directly related to your work. However, this could be affected by tax reform. Websites like and help students find fellowships, grants, and scholarships, including those available to older students.

Websites that offer free or mostly free “massive open online courses” (MOOC) taught by instructors from elite universities include,, and GCC offers economical, online classes, and hundreds of workshops are available from which to choose. Classes start monthly and most are 24 hours for only $115.