Finding a class in a subject you want to learn more about can be a great way to meet new people after 50. Community colleges, universities your local community center are both offer classes for adult learners.
Here are 50 ideas for different types of classes you can take as an adult. To find any of these, search by using the subject + the name of your hometown. It’s easier to meet people if the class meets more than just one time.
Daniel Bayard Jackson, a professional friendship coach, advises her clients to go three times to an event. This makes it more likely that you can connect with someone because you can bring up something from the prior meeting. She has a handy guide for how to turn acquaintances into friends when you subscribe to her email.
It is possible for online learning or virtual classes to turn into something where you can meet people in person over time. Building new skills is a great way to have built-in conversation starters because it’s easy to discuss what you’re learning. I didn’t find any free courses, but I found plenty that are good for older adults.
You can narrow your search down into day or evening classes. The basic search formula if you see one that interests you is the subject + class + your city. You will be amazed at the variety of topics where you can find a class.
- Ceramics and Pottery: These classes can cover basics like wheel-throwing or hand-building techniques and progress to advanced skills like glazing and firing. When I looked at what’s offered in Dallas I found a 5-week class, but you can look at pottery stores for this.
- Photography: There’s so much to learn about photography, from basics to advanced techniques, understanding equipment, lighting, composition, and even photo editing software. In Dallas I found a Photography studio that offers all kinds of in-person workshops from digital shooting to how to develop your own film.
- Gardening: Classes can focus on different aspects such as organic gardening, urban gardening, landscape design, or specific types of plants. If this is your area of interest you can find a program to become a Master Gardener or a master composter. These are pretty in-depth, but a good chance to meet others that like gardening. The course I found is 5-months long and meets once a week.
- Cooking and Baking: Diverse cuisines, specific cooking techniques, baking, pastry making, wine pairing, and more could all be covered. If you have a local Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma, they offer cooking classes.
- Music: Adults can learn to play a new instrument, take singing lessons, or learn music theory and composition. The problem is that these types of course offerings is that they are usually one on one with an instructor, which doesn’t usually lead to group discussions.
- Writing: Creative writing, poetry, scriptwriting, non-fiction writing, or even business writing can all be great creative outlets. If you are interested in writing a novel there is an annual challenge where you might be able to meet other writers, maybe virtually AT FIRST, and then in person every November. Check out this article.
- Dance: Various styles such as ballroom, salsa, ballet, or hip-hop can be enjoyable and also a great way to stay fit while meeting others.
- Yoga/Meditation: These classes not only promote physical well-being but also mental health.
- Language Learning: Learning a new language can be challenging and also a great way to meet new people and the classes are regular.
- Woodworking or Carpentry: These skills can be therapeutic, creative, and practical around the house. There is a chain of woodworking shops called Woodcraft, and they teach all kinds of woodworking classes.
- Knitting and Crochet: These are traditional crafts that are often offered at sewing and fabric stores.
- Jewelry Making: This can include everything from beading to working with precious metals.
- Computer Programming: Coding skills can be a useful hobby that can also turn into a profitable side gig. This might not be the place to meet other 50+ women because, I hate to cling to stereotypes, but this tends to attract a more male crowd.
- Bird Watching: Learn about different species, their habits, and habitats. Some classes might even include field trips.
- Drawing and Sketching: Different from painting but a whole art world unto itself, with many different styles and mediums to explore. Look for a creative arts center in your town. In Dallas we have CAC, which has all kinds of classes.
- Furniture Restoration: This hobby is practical and sustainable, teaching how to give a second life to worn-out furniture.
- Astronomy: Learning about the stars, constellations, and perhaps even how to use a telescope can be fascinating.
- Beer and Wine Making: These classes can be fun, and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
- Calligraphy: An elegant and therapeutic hobby that can be used in many practical ways, like card making or wall art. There are lots of virtual calligraphy courses, but look for an in person one.
- Fitness Classes: Beyond traditional gym workouts, adults could explore pilates, martial arts, Zumba, or even circus classes for adults.
If you want to take something a bit more unusual, you might consider these
- Glass Blowing: This ancient art form can result in beautiful pieces of art and utilitarian pieces alike.
- Blacksmithing or Bladesmithing: These classes can teach how to forge and shape metal, even creating your own tools or knives.
- Bookbinding: Learn the process of physically assembling a book from an ordered stack of paper sheets.
- Perfume Making: Explore the art of creating your own scents with natural and synthetic ingredients.
- Beekeeping: A class on the care and maintenance of bees can not only be fascinating but can also result in delicious honey. Did you know that bees can be shipped to you through the mail?
- Soap or Candle Making: Fun and practical, these classes could also lead to thoughtful homemade gifts.
- Falconry: While certainly not common, classes to learn about training birds of prey do exist! In fact, there are charitable organizations devoted to the preservation of birds of prey, which I can be another great way to meet people.
- Foraging and Wildcrafting: Learn how to safely identify and gather edible plants in the wild.
- Ice Sculpting: A unique art form that combines physical strength and delicate finesse. This one is pretty far out there.
- Mushroom Cultivation: Growing your own gourmet or medicinal mushrooms is something that is really outside the box.
My experience taking classes
I tried two classes. I took a woodworking class. This turned out to be a terrible place to meet people. The class was full of men under 40. I learned alot, but met no one.
I then took a watercolor painting class. This class was filled with women my age. To be fair, I took the class with a friend, which really limits the chance to meet new people. This class gave me two valuable insights. First, I really need to take a class that meets more than once to engage with the people in the class. Second, take the class solo.
The bottom line is that I didn’t meet anyone, but I need to do a better job of stepping outside my comfort zone. I think adult education programs are a great way to meet people.