Activities are abundant for residents of The Villages – golf, pickleball, tennis, daily live entertainment at the town squares, polo, lectures, clubs of all varieties and service groups. If that is not enough, the community also has The Villages Lifelong Learning College, a program offering personal enrichment for active adults.
Offering classes all year, with new courses beginning each month, the motto of the college is “No tests, grades, pressure. Just Fun.” And fun they have, with students learning how to do everything from how to twirl a baton to how to be a clown. The residents even seem to have fun learning serious subjects too; taking real estate classes and learning the details of social security.
The college was created to provide a forum for intellectual stimulation and exchange and to enhance the students’ awareness and involvement in life. While the school does “educate,” 70 percent of the students at TVLLC say they take classes for the socialization.
The physical base for the school is located in The Villages High School, but classes are held at more than a dozen locations throughout the area. As well, classes take field trips to local museums and attractions, and even excursion to places like The Holy Land, and to Utah, to research genealogy.
The TVLLC curriculum is made up of regular classes, a special speakers series, day trips and the excursions.
The classes are reasonably priced. Some short classes are less than $40, with the average class hovering around $80 (for a six-week session). Residents of The Villages can join a Patron Advantage program ($50 person or $75 for two at same address) and get early registration and a discount on classes, speakers and day trips, saving roughly $3 per class over the resident fee.
The range of topics taught at TVLLC far exceeds clowning around. There are classes where students can learn hands-on art techniques, art history, theater, crafts (from quilting to beading), dance, finance, history, languages and computers (including how to manage your Ipods and peripherals).
There are cooking classes, music classes (from band to bagpipes to learning the mountain dulcimer) and parapsychology (dreams to feng shui). There is philosophy, psychology (serial killers of Florida), religion, science, and sports and hobbies (fly tying to dog obedience).
Agricultural classes are offered through the University of Florida Extension Services (care of palm trees and how to hire landscape help), and the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers classes on things like forensic anthropology and the history of Florida Barge Canal.
While the range of topics covered is wide, the students drive the curriculum. Typically qualified area residents and professionals propose (and teach) the classes. When a class is proposed, the course description is placed in The Villages newspaper and on the school’s web site. When 10 or more people show interest in the class, it’s added to the schedule.
One thing about the The Villages Lifelong Learning College is that the activity and opportunity for socialization doesn’t necessarily end when the class is over. Students have been known to work with The Villages recreation department to create groups to practice what they learned. A dance class, for example may evolve into a monthly dance.
Whatever you are interested in, and whatever you know well enough to teach, The Villages Lifelong Learning College may be the place to share that knowledge and to meet the neighbors.