Noble Continuing Education
Q: I want to find out what "older adults" (the term used by the Library of Congress to describe Seniors and distinguish them from seniors in schools and colleges) feel about classroom education. The views expressed have meandered from that to the internet as substitute, to Elderhostel... I am glad it gave folks the opportunity to vent their views. However, to come back to my original question: yes, websites like suite101 are OK but they charge for their services. Barnes and Noble's online university does not, as far as I know, and is as good. But the point is, some Seniors are not familiar with the internet, some are intimidated by computers, some cannot afford to have computers... what about them? A certain type of Senior is contented with Bingo, but I know of others who would love to exercise those little gray cells but don't have the wherewithal or opportunity to do so. I might point out that not many have joined this discussion--I notice the same names re-appearing--an indication that not many are as conversant with the internet as we think. Also, nothing like getting out of our houses and actually meeting people face to face and hearing their voices.
A: There are many, many seniors who do very much enjoy taking classes at senior centers, community colleges and other colleges as well. Often there is free tuition offered at colleges for seniors to audit courses. Such is the case with the City College system in New York City, and I have a friend who has been working her way through auditing courses in art history. While in auditing a class one does not take exams or write papers, my friend says she participates in class discussion and has been well received by professors and students as well. I, myself, began my retirement at age 55 by entering grad school to study anthropology for five years, simply because I loved it. I did teach in a college for a year, but did not intend a career nor was one feasible except as an adjunct professor, which is a tough life -- travel all about, a course here and a course there. I personally would prefer not to isolate myself within a senior population. I enjoy contact with people of all ages, we have much to learn from the young and the young to learn from us. But I would be the last to rule that senior courses are not highly satisfactory to a large number and fill a big gap -- they are generally relative short in duration, one can easily sample a wide range of interests, and there is not the anxiety of entering a collge campus that exists for some. I have done a few classes in the continuing education arm of New York University in art appreciation and art history. NYU offers most continuing ed classes to seniors at half price. One of the classes I've repeated consists of the teacher accompanying the group to various art galleries in the city to see what is new and fresh in the art scene. Since this changes with the years, this class can be repeated. And many, but not all, of those signing up for the class appear to be retired people. So there are many opportunities out there, and I'd suggest exploring what colleges offer in the way of auditing classes or attending them at a reduced fee.