Seniors return to college
So many seniors tell me that college was one of the best times of their lives.
I agree. Perhaps that’s why I continue to find myself in class – usually at least one a semester – even at age 71. Of course, all those cute coeds don’t detract from the experience. And when they catch me staring, they generously dismiss it as an old man’s harmless antics.
College men, too, treat us fogies with respect, even deference. I’ve often been asked advice on life issues. How refreshing it is to be taken seriously by youngsters! We seldom get that from our grandchildren.
Most of all, I enjoy learning. Learning what I want to learn.
There’s great freedom in taking courses without worrying about grades, credits, or graduation. Learning something just for the sheer pleasure of it is a joy.
I’ve taken computer software courses, art courses – my three-foot nude sculpture won an award – ethics, public speaking, philosophy, graphic design, and enough photography classes to merit several PhDs. As a serious amateur, from 1980 until recently I took photo courses every semester at whatever college I was near, just to have access to darkrooms.
With today’s digital technology, that’s no longer necessary. But I will always remain thankful for the access.
Twenty-five years ago, I was considered a “non-traditional student.” Today, with so many geezers taking classes, we’re just “one of the guys.” Or gals (and you don’t have to wear a poodle skirt, saddle shoes, or a girdle).
Looking for new friends? Search no farther than your local community college. You’ll find folks of all ages, many interested in matters that matter to you.
And in these days of “use it or lose it,” what better way to keep your mind and body active than to attend classes that you enjoy.
Old Dogs, New Tricks
Many institutions, like St. Petersburg College near my home, offer free courses to students age 60 and over. I simply sign up, pay $35 for a student card, and take whatever courses are available and not filled.
Then I leverage my student card for discounts at concerts, lectures, even buying software where savings are huge.
If you must pay, and your purse is thin, check out the billions of dollars in grants and scholarships available.
Concerned that you’re too old and can’t learn? It’s simply not true. We old dogs are readily taught new tricks. Half the students enrolled in college today are 25 or over.
We bring rich life experience to class. One student told me that he was thankful I was there because “You give me hope for my old age.” (Getting old has got to be good for something!)
No wonder, according to the New York Times, more than 500 colleges and universities offer elderly learning programs. We enhance discussions, providing new angles of insight.
Who else is there to prove to younger generations the virtues of aging?
Retire to Your Alma Mater
In June, when I returned to Indiana’s DePauw University for my 50th Reunion, I briefly considered what a joy it would be to live on or near my college campus again.
Think of the intellectual stimulation, the cultural events! Then I thought of the snow, blizzards, and tornados decided not to leave Florida after all.
Not that retiring to your college campus is a bad idea. Today, thousands do just that. In ventures between schools and private developers, many colleges are building retirement communities for aging alumni. Besides built-in nostalgia, returning graduates often get free classes, priority access to sport and cultural events, and an atmosphere of youthful energy and intellectual vigor.
That’s the same atmosphere I enjoy at my local community college. It’s true; hanging around kids helps keep you thinking young.
Hey, fall schedule’s coming up. Isn’t it time to put a touch of class into your retirement?
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