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Senior Citizens Get a Second Chance at Gaining New Learning Experiences at Kent StatePosted July 23, 2012 | Alexandria Rhodes
Who says you can’t go back to school at 60? Kent State University offers an affordable and enjoyable opportunity for senior citizens to come back to class to learn something new through its Senior Guest Program. The Senior Guest Program at Kent State allows Ohio residents age 60 and above to attend regular, on-campus classes on a tuition-free basis.
Under the program, senior guest students who have resided in the state of Ohio for at least one year can enroll in one or two classes per semester with permission from instructors, if space is available. College credit is not awarded for the program.
Senior guest registration is held just prior to each term in the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, located in 204 Schwartz Center. While there is no charge for tuition, senior guests are responsible for the purchase of books, course materials, the payment of special course fees, if applicable, and for their parking permits. Forty-eight senior guest students were enrolled this past spring semester on the Kent Campus.
“Our senior guests are usually retired individuals who are taking courses for the love of learning,” says Deb Huntsman, executive director of Kent State’s Office of Continuing and Distance Education. “Many of them take art or language courses, but they are very diverse in their interests and they enroll in many courses across the university. They are a fascinating group from all walks of life.”
Clayton Morris, 72, one of the program’s participants says he heard about the program through friends who had taken part in similar opportunities, and it sparked his interest.
“My friends had taken some classes before at Kent State, and I had always been interested in photography, Web design and graphics, so I thought I would give it a try,” says Morris.
Morris researched similar senior guest programs at other institutions, but he says that Kent State offered the best fit for him.
“I first looked into a similar program at my alma mater, The University of Akron, but was discouraged by the fees associated with it,” Morris says. “Kent State was an easy choice to make. We only have to pay for our books, along with a small lab fee and the parking at Kent State is easier to get in and out of.”
Morris says that the program is well worth the time it takes to go back to class and recommends Kent State’s program to anyone he can. He plans on taking one or two classes this fall and he hopes to get into a graphic design class, a class he has always wanted to take.
“It is well worth seniors doing it. It occupies our time in an informative way and also gives us a chance to see what is currently going on in the world around us and in education,” Morris says.
Another program participant, John Read, 65, has already taken most of the undergraduate weaving courses offered in the School of Art. With a background in computer graphics design, the ancient art of weaving drew his interest due to its graphic nature, along with the unlimited texture, color, pattern, technique and material choices that can be employed.
Read’s artwork consists of weaving with mostly recycled material using tapestry techniques. While he no longer takes undergraduate classes, Read says he will continue to sign up for the Textile Arts: Advanced Studio course to secure a loom and studio time. His two recent larger works, which took 15 to 24 months to produce, were recently displayed at the Office of Continuing and Distance Education.
“Artists are driven. They have to create,” Read says. “It's absolutely worth it to take classes for personal benefit.”
Kent State’s Senior Guest Program is giving senior citizens like Morris and Read the opportunity to do just that.
For more information about Kent State’s Senior Guest Program, including program registration dates, visit www.kent.edu/cde/senior.