August is “Back to School” month at Repair the World. Check back all month long for posts about inspiring education organizations, amazing educators, and ways to get your education on – whether you’re a student or not!

Do you miss college? Of course you do (unless you’re currently a student, of course). When it comes to true learning – the pure, unadulterated work and pleasure of filling our minds with knowledge – college is the best time of our lives. And for graduates, even if we love the work we do, it’s hard not to get a little wistful for a daily schedule designed around reading, thinking and growing.

But don’t get too distressed! It is possible to recapture some of the magic of college without shelling out lots of money for graduate school. The secret: host a salon. Get a group of like minded, college-missing friends together (you know the ones who always say things like, “my brain has totally atrophied since graduation!), pick a subject, and get learning! If you do, you will be in good company as salons were once an important part of European Jewish society. Here’s how:

Pick a location. Find a cozy, relatively quiet place like a cafe or your living room. Have someone joining you from out of town? Bring them into the conversation with Skype.

Have snacks. You cannot learn on an empty stomach – plus, food helps bring people together. So get some healthy snacks together (they don’t have to be fancy) and have them available for noshing on throughout the evening. And don’t forget the coffee.

Teach each other. Everyone has an area of expertise, whether it’s 19th century Russian politics, the history of the Slinky, or how to knit a pair of tube socks. Each gathering, pick a teacher or discussion leader from within your group, so everyone has a turn sharing their knowledge with the group.

Bring in an expert. Have an topic that really interests your group? Invite an outside expert or locally-based professor or book author to come speak at your salon gathering. Cook them a delicious dinner as thanks, or chip in as a group to pay them an honorarium. It will feel just like a college class, minus the steep tuition.

Do good: Each time you meet, put a box in the center of the room and ask everyone to make a donation to an education-focused organization. You can also plan service days for salon members – tutoring days, or working at a soup kitchen, etc. – which will help build your sense of community, and do some good!