Elders learn at U of C

By Amie Campbell

The pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong process. Learning continues long after the four, five or six or however many years of post-secondary education most students complete before embarking on their careers. The senior citizen students who currently take classes at the University of Calgary exemplify this lifelong learning philosophy.

U of C policy permits any Alberta Resident 65 years or older and their spouse to attend undergraduate courses at the U of C, with tuition waived by the university. Seniors can register in either an undergraduate program, or as an unclassified student.

“[Seniors] have the option totake classes for credit or they can audit,” said Susan Woods of the Registrar’s Office. Auditing allows seniors to sit in on lectures and learn the class material without the added stress of term papers and final exams.

“You’re not there to participate, just to observe,” Woods said.

Senior citizen student Bill Carpenter has audited U of C courses for the past three years.

“[Other] seniors classes are great, because you are with your own peers, but it’s pretty much a coffee break.” Mr. Carpenter finds that there is more vitality and challenge at the U of C compared with other programs.

“This is not a socializing class,” he said.

Students who audit do not participate in class discussion and assignments unless an agreement is made between the professor and the student.

“You just sit there, take it all in and gain some knowledge,”

the vibrant senior said. Mr. Carpenter enjoys the smaller classes because

he is often able to participate more.

If he can write a term paper and

have it marked by the instructor, Carpenter will rise to the challenge.

“I like to turn in some kind of a paper,” he said. “I want someone to give me some idea if I’m on the right track.”

Carpenter suggests that some seniors may be anxious to audit classes at the U of C because they are not around their peers.

“They are a little embarrassed about being the oldest ones in the class,” he said. “I don’t think a senior should be reluctant to audit. I don’t feel a sense of embarrassment because students have their own programs.”

According to Woods, including senior citizens into the student body is beneficial.

“It’s inspiring for students,” she said. “It shows students that learning is a lifelong process.” Why do senior citizens choose to return to university after so many years hard at work in the work force? Woods suggests that after retirement seniors may want to continue learningabout a subject that interests them.

“Others are fulfilling life dreams,” she added. “There’s a variety of reasons.”

As for Mr. Bill Carpenter, he wants to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle, both mentally and physically. The option for senior citizens to audit university courses at the U of C allows him to keep his mind fresh and active.

“You stay mentally alert,” Carpenter stated. “Throw in the Olympic Oval for exercise and you’ve got a full day!”


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