Learn for the fun of it at OLLI

As we age, it can become more difficult to keep up with academic and social skills. 

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at West Virginia University offers a solution for older individuals who wish to expand their horizons, by offering memberships for anyone over the age of 50. The institute also offers scholarship options. 

OLLI is part of a nationwide system, part of a family of over 125  locations.  OLLI at WVU has over 560 members  and is always  accepting new applicants. 

Classes range from    opera, painting and glass-blowing to history and philosophy. There are also opportunities for  social outings, such as a zipline trip or a local baseball game.  

Classes and  the social events are typically suggested by the members themselves. The institute then investigates further to see what  it can provide on these topics,  then allows the relevant classes to be created and taught. 

While classes can vary in subject, they all typically run  from one to two  hours a week over eight weeks. 

New members can join at any point during the semester, but will get the most out of their payment if they join before the semester begins. With no exams or quizzes given, the learning at the OLLI is  for fun and education. 

Jascenna Haislet has been director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for more than eight years. She said the organization tracks each class and takes suggestions from members. A large whiteboard in her office is filled with those suggestions. OLLI has been around for decades, but was first known as Appalachia Lifelong Learning. The name was changed in 2009. 

Haislet said the institution has grown exponentially over the past few years, especially since the pandemic. Once the organization began offering virtual options and attendance over Zoom, more  members  joined. This virtual option has remained  for those who  prefer learning from home, or have complications that would otherwise restrict them from joining in-person. 

To learn more, go to olliatwvu.org.