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Senior Citizen in College

In: People

Submitted By KEEPUP
Words 2533
Pages 11
Kevin T. Ellis
English 155/Ms. Quinn
26 March 2013
Should Colleges Accept Senior Citizen Student Imagine sitting next to someone’s father or grandmother in a classroom, at first it may feel awkward having a senior age classmate. Later you find they are just well on their subjects both in the classroom and online, and might be someone to consider as a study buddy on a class project. Keep in mind to those older Americans returning to school, the world of the classrooms, can seem both foreign and intimidating. For some senior citizens, taken online courses also eliminate the fear of feeling out of place, where being in a class full of decades-younger students may make them feel, shamed at not having completed their education. Being an online student, they do not have to share their ages or educational background.
The flexibility of online courses is also beneficial for seniors with ambulation problems, allows them to still work on class assignments from home. When thinking of education and senior citizens that are returning to school with hopes in getting the degree they missed in the past has their families feeling very proud just to think that they're actually taking advantage of the opportunity that the government has given them to go back to school. Younger students are true believers of the fact that no one is ever too old to learn. The older generations, with the disruption of the wars and the increasing financial insecurities, had to take a back seat to the more primal needs of securing food, shelter, and medical care. These and many others, are reasons why it important that all colleges should allow senior citizens to further their education, it promotes inner growth and it gives them the chance to reconnect with their past and future educational goals, with the added bonus of improving mental and physical health by creating cognitive and corporeal exercise.
Mr. Barry Williams (63) Real Estate Management, Sacramento City College Student when asked during an interview whether should colleges allow senior citizens to further their education he stated “They should, and they do. For senior citizens such as myself there are many advantages to returning to school, some of which are totally taking to the learning experience itself. For one thing, my wife and grandchildren feel I’m about the coolest thing on the planet since “peanut and jelly”. For me, the learning make “your brain- cells stand at attention like little soldiers”, because they are taking in so much new information and being stimulated instead of just lying there, and it’s been over forty years since high school for me. Man, history takes on a whole new meaning when the events discussed in class are those which you yourself have lived through especially the wars, and plant layoffs, and getting the chance to share that in class is very helpful. Think about that! Your past historical experiences are added education within a younger group, and on a practical level, give you something else to talk about besides aches, pains, Social Security, Medical, and reading the obituaries”(Williams).

Regardless of age, all students are concerned about tuition, the cost, and how are they going to pay; this can add pressure and stress to the senior citizen student who already financially stressful life. Lucky, provisions for the reduction or even a waiver in most of the states are provided for the senior citizen so they can enroll in classes at institutions that offer higher education. Each school has its own program that it has developed to help aid the senior citizens to pay for school. Even with the opportunities offered, some senior citizens still didn’t take advantage of them. “A number of different reasons for the failure of the elderly to participate in educational opportunities have been proposed”. (Kingston.)
The California State system has a program that it has enabled for senior citizen, the cost being significantly lower than the tuition of any other student. The senior citizen education program enables eligible California residents 60 years of age or older to enroll as regular students at a cost of $3.00 per semester. The program, which was founded at California State University of Long Beach (CSULB), has been in operation since 1975. Individuals are attending courses in a variety of subject areas and class levels from freshman through graduate standing (
Tuition waivers are approximately 60 percent of accredited degree-granting educational institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults. But surprisingly, fewer than 50 students at each school that runs such a program utilized it in 2006. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, currently has 21 seniors citizens enrolled in its tuition waiver program, and 30 participated in the University of Virginia's program over the past two semesters. A typical offering is University of Delaware's Higher Education for Senior Citizens, which includes free tuition for degree candidates who are Delaware residents and age 60 or older. One reason more senior adults do take advantage of the free tuition is because of the ease requirements. The waivers often depend on space availability and sometimes require permission from the instructor. At some colleges, tuition waivers are restricted to credit-bearing courses; while at others only noncredit courses qualify. Some states also have an income cap for eligible participants and require proof of state residency, documentation of retirement, and a high school diploma. Colleges that don’t offer tuition waivers sometimes provide tuition discounts to seniors adult students.
According to the American Council on Education, about half of college-going adults age 50 and older attend community colleges, mainly for the enjoyment, to connect with other people, and to set sights for a new career.( Eighty four percent of community colleges offer courses specifically targeted towards student’s age 50+, according to a recent survey of 204 community colleges by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). It’s known community colleges are not free, but with tuition wavier and low cost, that means” a senior citizen attending full-time would pay less than $2,500 which would equal to less than $800 per course if it was broken down” says George Boggs, AACC president and CEO (
It’s been addressed on how much it is going to cost senior citizens to go to school, now how are they going to pay for it?. While many scholarships are aimed at traditional undergraduates, these opportunities have been offer to the senior adult student, with the same educational goals in mind. Through further research a senior citizen student can find there are other scholarship programs support just for seniors. In the state of Alabama if the senior citizen is over 60 there is a tuition free program called senior citizen education program which supports all full-time two year senior adults. Northern Michigan University offers the same program but it doesn’t cover fees, books, and online classes are not included.

For the senior adult who chooses to return to school full- or part-time while maintaining responsibilities such as employment, family, and other responsibilities of adult life, there are some challenges of being an adult student, which will involve the task of balancing education, job, and family, this predicament where many different activities including school work, children, spouses, job, chores and extracurricular activities will compete for their time. The senior adult student may miss class because he/she needs to tend to a doctor’s appointment or he/she may forfeit a certain benefit to complete an assignment. This demand on the senior adult student’s time may result in an inability to fulfill daily tasks and extreme exhaustion. Another challenge faced by adult students is insecurities about their performance or abilities. These adults may have been away from the classroom for quite some time and may return feeling apprehensive about their ability to get back into the scheme of things, especially with the many changes and new trends in education such as technology. Additionally, they may lack good study skills and may find it difficult to recall information they learned in earlier school days. These challenges and many others working in concert can put a strain on senior adult students whose desire it is to further their education. Overcoming those challenges is therefore of utmost importance and will ensure a feeling of attainment at the end.
One of the best way to break those challenges is to meet other senior adult students, perhaps in the college cafeteria, bookstore, and even in the library, start by introducing yourselves and remembering names as you speak everyday with each other, take turns talking about your feelings, impressions, and experiences on starting college. Sharing what courses that are being offer and taken, and how to avoid difficulties with overloaded assignments from classes, discuss the benefits from having a small support group. Exchange telephone numbers, during the first weeks it will be useful to telephone each other daily and meet frequently. Talk about why it will be useful to get together to study for tests, read each other's papers, problem solve difficulties, encourage each other, and applaud your successes.
Reconnecting socially with diverse and interesting people within the community college and with college peers, senior citizen students will increase their survival chances and does better in college when they form support groups with other students. According to my survey report 60 percent of students disagree senior citizens should take online courses, with 40 percent strongly disagreeing. What I took from this part of the survey was most agree that they should attend classes instead of being by themselves. Together they can create guidelines for an all age success support group within the college community, getting together with a few other beginning students, and urging any new student to come along.
One of the benefits of bringing senior citizen and youth together in the classroom is to expand the value senior citizens bring to higher education, it can easily be said that they help provide a facet of diversity that adds to the learning experience for all. Educators are always interested in making connections between the subject matter in a course and the personal and professional worlds of senior citizen students so that learners are able to apply their knowledge to better themselves. Having individuals in a classroom who can share 55 or more years of life experiences as examples deepens the exploration of the subject matter for students and instructors.
They often share information that isn’t found in textbooks or Internet searches, knowledge that only comes from people who lived through events and experienced them first-hand.
In relation to this, older and younger students become natural mentors for one another, often offering encouragement in various areas. Those with 55 or more years of life have overcome obstacles so they can provide a clear testimony to younger students who have not yet had as many of those successes that they too can overcome life’s challenges. “Class assignments/projects can improve the cognitive abilities of the adult learner, rejuvenate memory, and have fun all at the same time”. ( Kingston, Albert J). The energy that comes with youth tends to positively affect older adults, making them feel better. Although both age groups tend to feel intimidated by college or certain course subjects, having friendly, safe interactions with someone who reminds them of a grandparent, son, or daughter can set their minds at ease, allowing better learning to occur. ” Improving mental and physical health by getting cognitive and corporeal exercise though class courses, assignments, and playing a sport”. (Keathley, Michael)
There are professional networking for senior citizens in Colleges these networks reach out to people you know as well as alumni from your college for the purpose of discussing their individual career path, how they got to where they are today, and for recommendations on how you might break into the industry yourself as a senior citizen graduate. Though networking the senior citizen college student can seek Occupational, and Career Planning on their campus, when you decide to go to college, you are committing to make a significant investment of time and money. To help you make a wise investment, you will need to determine which careers interest you and what education you will need for those careers. Senior Citizen Students who enter college already knowing what kind of work they want to do and what classes they need to take have a better chance of finishing college, having a plan for the future will help you to establish your career and educational goals.
Senior Citizen students are returning to college to earn an AA, BA, BS or MA degree. Earning a degree often offers a huge advantage in job searching, career changes and job advancement. Whether a senior is interested in seeking a general education, wishes to learn a new language, or wants to take an art course, learning stimulates the brain, opens the mind, and enriches one's life. Coming to college as an adult, we have many expectations and preconceptions of what college will or will not be. The expectations we have can influence our college life for the better or the worse. Experiencing college is an interesting faze, some people have had misconceptions about senior citizens students entering college because they do not know what to expect. After doing some research, my conclusion is there are three major factors that are often misunderstood about college life and the senior citizen student. The first is the financial aspect of college, can the adult student afford the classes. Second, the relationship between the professors and the adult students is the communication there. Third is time management will the assignments be done. These three factors played an important role in the past, as to why senior adults were afraid to go down the path to college. Today the answers to those questions are yes and hopefully more colleges and universities will foster this relationship with older adult students so that all the benefits senior citizen students bring to higher learning will continue to have a positive effect on education. Getting a better education should have no age limit, or any financial barrier, education is one goal that every senior citizen student would really like to accomplish with the time they have left in their lives to reach that fulfillment. Just the thought of finishing school as a senior citizen adult will take hard work and dedication, but with the support from community colleges, universities, and government everyone helps alone the way will help senior citizen adult’s students to meeting their educational goals.

Work Cite Page

Kingston, Albert J. "Attitudes and problems of elderly students in the university system of Georgia." Educational Gerontology: An International Quarterly 8.1 (1982): 87-92. Web

Kingston, Albert J. "The senior citizen as college student." Educational Gerontology: An International Quarterly 8.1 (1982): 43-52. Web Web Posted on Thursday January 26, 2012 by Michael Keathley
Long, Huey B., and Boyd E. Rossing. "Tuition waiver plans for older Americans in postsecondary public education institutions." Educational Gerontology: An International Quarterly 4.2 (1979): 161-174.

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