Today many individuals older than 60 are looking to enhance their educational experience and keep intellectually curious.
Higher education can be a costly experience, but seniors are able to take advantage of specially-priced programs available locally.
Melvin North, program developer at the Youngstown State University Metro College in Boardman, said that the YSU Metro College offers programs for seniors such as the College Over Sixty program and the Institute For Learning in Retirement.
Seniors looking to enroll in continuing education do not have to worry about huge tuition fees. It’s about keeping the mind interested and active.
“The College Over Sixty program was initiated by the Ohio Legislature a few decades ago,” North said. “This program enables any Ohio resident in the 60-plus age group to attend a state college institution, where they can audit the classes. Seniors in this program pay for class materials if the class does require materials such as art classes or computer classes.”
North said that with the College Over Sixty program, seniors can take college credit courses for free.
Though many younger students register for classes online, North said seniors who would like to take classes in the College Over Sixty program are required to go to the YSU Metro College to register the Friday before classes start. He said that with the College Over Sixty program, seniors could register for fall, spring and summer semesters.
Kent State University also offers classes for those older than 60 with its Senior Guest program.
The other program for seniors that the YSU Metro College offers is the Institute For Learning and Retirement which, North said, differs from the College Over Sixty program.
The ILR program is more of a lecture-based program, whereas the College Over Sixty programs involve seniors auditing semester college credit courses.
“The ILR consists of 15 lectures that are held over the academic year,” North said. “People who are interested in the program have to pay an annual membership fee to attend the lectures.”
North said that about 90 percent of the lectures are conducted by YSU professors. Some examples of lecture topics included Egyptian history, Russian exploration from Siberia to the space age, the history of YSU’s campus newspaper the Jambar, history of Idora Park and geology in Ohio.
Margaret Lorimer, chair of the Institute of Learning and Retirement, said that the ILR lectures are great ways for seniors to learn about different topics.
“According to our logistics, about 40 out of 42 seniors in the ILR Lecture program have gone to college, so this shows that this group is interested in continued learning,” Lorimer said. “At these lectures, they learn different things. Sometimes a topic might be something that they didn’t know that they would be interested in, but at the lecture, they discover they are interested in the topic.”
Roger Jones, resident of Park Vista Retirement Center, has participated in both continuing education programs at Youngstown State. He has a degree in engineering and is one of the many seniors who attend the ILR Lectures at Youngstown State University.
“The ILR program lectures range from good to excellent and these lectures are very mind expanding,” Jones said. “The professors who present these lectures range from science to history to geology professors.”
The YSU College Over 60 program also gave Jones the opportunity to explore something he had always wanted to try.
“I was taking bronze casting sculpture courses,” he said. “I always wanted to cast in bronze sculpture. For a while I made money doing sculptures. I did sculptures for two malls in Florida.”
North believes that the ILR program is a flexible learning experience.
“We give the seniors in this program an evaluation sheet which includes a list of topics for the program, and they pick the topics,” North said. “This helps us select lecture topics and helps us develop what is presented. The ILR is a wonderful program that provides personal enrichment for seniors, and it’s a great way for seniors to get out on a Friday.”