Continuing Education

By Karen Harrell

One of the best ways to stay healthy and alert is to exercise your brain.

That’s why many winter visitors choose to take non-credit continuing education classes at local colleges and universities.

Visitors staying from The Forgotten Coast to the Alabama Gulf Coast have their choice of a wide range of courses from computer, Internet and digital photography to cooking, drawing and home decorating.

On the Alabama Gulf Coast, Faulkner State University is offering continuing education classes at its Fairhope and Gulf Shores campuses. New this year is an eight-session healthy restoration series of classes. The always popular culinary series also returns at the Gulf Shores campus. Classes start in mid-January. Culinary dinners are offered from seafood to Italian and prices range from $30 to $55.

The University of West Florida in Pensacola offers Leisure Learning for people 55 and older, offering 50 to 65 different activities every semester. Some are classes that run for several weeks, while others are one-time events and trips.

Cost for Leisure Learning is the same for Florida residents and non-residents: joining the group is $15 per year, and classes range in cost from $7 for a one-time class to $30 for a class that runs several weeks.

Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City offers a series of spring classes available from Port St. Joe on the Forgotten Coast to several campuses in the Panama City, Fla., area.

Choices include astronomy, flower arranging, drawing, fishing basics, writing, Tai Chi, computer classes and more. Sessions run for six weeks – from Jan. 21 through Feb. 25 – every Friday from 8:30 until noon, allowing students to select from a menu of courses to fill three time slots.

Enrollment in the program offers access to campus amenities such as the library, bookstores, wellness center, arts events and dining.

The Prime Time program at Northwest Florida State College (formerly known as Okaloosa Walton Community College ) in Niceville offers non-credit classes in the spring from January through March. While fall courses are filled with locals, spring semester belongs to the Snowbirds.

Be sure to check the school’s individual websites for updated information.

Most area senior centers and recreational facilities also offer courses ranging from arts and crafts to financial and health seminars.

Specific information on class topics and schedules are available through each school listed below.

University of West Florida, Pensacola
Leisure Learning Society

Northwest Florida State College, Niceville
Prime Time Program
850-729-6084 or 850-729-6085.

Gulf Coast Community College, Panama City
Lifelong Learning

Faulkner State University
251-968-3104, Fairhope or 251-990-0445. Gulf Shores