Courses and Field Trips

New Bedford Seaport Field trip

The fall semester begins in September and runs through early December. The spring semester begins in February and runs through early June. The Link to Fall 2014 Course Catalog (PDF) is here. Ready to Register?  Visit the Registration page for more information and review our Link to 2014 Fall Registration and Aug 13 Open House document (.doc) (2014 Fall Registration and Open House format have changed. Please read.).

Important Note:  For the Fall 2014 registration one must submit both the completed Registration Form and the Membership Form.

Courses  |  Field Trips Governance


Each semester, fall and spring, the Second Half mails a catalog of course offerings to anyone who has asked to be on our mailing list, approximately 600 people.  We also advertise in local newspapers and magazines and put posters and course cards in local libraries and stores that older adults are likely to frequent.  In addition, we hold an open house which is widely advertised so that people who want to learn more about what the program has to offer can attend.

The courses we offer are provided by volunteer facilitators, many of whom are also members of the Second Half.  The facilitators include former professors at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Brown University, the University of Georgia, Roger Williams College, and other universities.  There are also some former secondary school teachers who facilitate courses.  One does not need to have a degree in the particular subject that one teaches–although many of the facilitators do hold advanced degrees in their subject area–one just has to have an interest in, and knowledge of, the subject and a willingness to share that interest with others.  All of the courses, called study groups, are seminar-style and the students bring to them their work and life experiences which enriches the discussion so that everyone learns something new.  The Second Half also offers interest groups.  Interest groups are classes that focus on building new skills in a particular area such as bridge, digital photography, knitting, and learning to play handbells.  A 2013 Course Catalogand past course listings can be viewed here.

All of the course offerings are designed to offer to older adults from the south coast region of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the opportunity for intellectual stimulation and social interaction.  Recent studies of healthy aging cite the importance of older adults staying engaged in stimulating activities that contribute to successful aging and cognitive health as a way of enhancing their overall well-being.  As the ranks of the “baby boomers” swell the number of retirees in the United States, the need for this type of program continues to grow rapidly.

The fall semester begins in September and runs through early December. The spring semester begins in February and runs through early June. The longer spring semester allows those members who spend time in warmer climates during the winter to sign up for late spring courses.  The courses are offered at our main building in Fall River, Massachusetts and in ten satellite locations to make it easier for people to attend the courses they are interested in.


Field Trips

All of the course offerings contribute to furthering the purpose of The Second Half (TSH) which is to promote the aims of lifelong learning among the adult population of southeastern New England.  As part of the lifelong learning experience TSH also offers field trips to various museums and other educational venues.  Recent trips have included: the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, The New York Botanical Garden, Boston’s Museum of Science, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem Massachusetts.

Each year, TSH also offers one or two trips to Europe.  In May 2013, members took a trip to the provinces of Lanquedoc and Provence in France in connection with the French-language course called “La Provence et Le Lanquedoc”.  On October 31, 2013 a group to explored Andalucia in Spain, after having taken a Spanish-language course entitled “Andalucia: The Land of Your Dreams.  A trip to the Azores is scheduled for May 2014 following the fall class on “The Azores, Yesterday and Today”, and a trip to Paris, France will take place in early June 2014.  These trips provide a wonderful and exciting learning experience as well as an opportunity to travel with congenial companions.  This is especially important for those adults whose spouses may have passed away, since many other tour groups where people are coupled up might be less inviting.



One hundred percent of both staff time and volunteer time is devoted to activities which further the purpose of promoting the aims of lifelong learning and providing learning opportunities for anyone who wants to take advantage of them.  To take courses through the Second Half one must become a member.  This requirement exists because most of the work of the organization is done by volunteers.  There are only two part-time paid positions (Director, and Office Assistant) to keep things organized and running smoothly.

The Director works under the general supervision of the Board of Directors.

The annual membership fee is $35.00 per year and is due in the fall of each year.  Tuition for each semester is $150.00 for up to two courses and $30.00 for each additional course.  The program is self-supporting and funded entirely by the membership and tuition fees.  One reason for seeking tax exempt status is that we would like to become eligible to apply for grants or to receive donations that would enable us to expand the scope of what we are currently doing and also provide funding for scholarships for those individuals who are on very limited incomes and for whom even the low fees for this program are more than they can afford, or justify paying.

There is some income listed in our financial information that is essentially pass-through money, such as fees for parking passes, luncheon tickets, and some additional fees for supplies or materials associated with a particular course of study.  The Second Half earns no money on these items but only organizes them as a service to our members.  Nor does the Second Half handle any of the income or expenses for the local or European trips.  Most of the European trips are booked through MSA Cultural Tours, a local agency specializing in educational tours.  TSH provides the course and MSA Cultural tours provides the travel arrangements and tour guides.

Plans for the future include starting a speaker series that will be offered free of charge to the public as a way of introducing more people to what the Second Half has to offer. Members receive a quarterly printed newsletter with information on the organization and stories about events that have taken place as well as information on upcoming activities.  They also receive News & Notes, a monthly electronic update of activities and events that are planned. The Second Half also has this web site on which we post the course catalogs and information on the program and on future events.