Academic and Online Options
There are also educational opportunities for nontraditional students at some top universities through academic or yearlong programs for executives and other professionals. Students can audit classes, attend lectures, and work on projects with graduate and undergraduate students.
These include the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, the University of Notre Dame’s Inspired Leadership Initiative, the University of Minnesota’s Advanced Careers Initiative, and the University of Texas at Austin, which offers the Tower Fellows Program.
Three years ago, Glenn Lowenstein, 60, was ready for a new challenge. The Houston resident had sold Lionstone Investments, the real estate investment company he founded in 2001, to Ameriprise. “It was a hard decision,” he said. “The business had been my dream, and then I lived the reality of it for 20 years, and all of a sudden there was a void. It was scary. When there is nothing in front of you, that’s where the resiliency has to come in.”
His solution was to return to campus. Two years ago, he was a Towers fellow. “You have to put yourself out there in an environment you have not been in before,” he said. “It’s a combination of confidence in yourself, enjoyment in exploration and going toward your fear.”
As a fellow, Mr. Lowenstein, for example, enrolled in an advanced graduate philosophy seminar. “It was way above my head,” he said. “I would try my hardest to follow every single word of the conversation. It was fascinating to me the way the graduate students articulated their arguments. It was super esoteric stuff, but I would walk out and be ‘wow, I am learning a new way to communicate here.’”
The best part, though, was his time on campus: “It was so cool to be in an environment where I wasn’t the expert,” he said. “I wasn’t the person relied on to know everything, so I could sit back and enjoy the process of learning, and that’s positive energy. My aim is to keep my mind and body and spirit healthy. I don’t think you can do that without learning.”
For those who can’t afford the time or money required for a high-level fellowship or university program, there are myriad paths to learning. Free or reasonably priced online classes are available through sites like Coursera, EdX, The Great Courses, LinkedIn Learning, MasterClass, Skillshare, TED Talks and Udemy.