Retirees return

Adam Milasincic

Courses don’t have an age limit at Kent State

Phyliss Hammerstrom, senior guest student, registers for fall classes yesterday in Michael Schwartz. Between 9:30 and noon, seniors were able to register and ask questions about the program. LAUREN ANDERSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

As most Kent State seniors are heading out the door, these ones are registering for summer classes. The College of Continuing Studies launched its registration drive yesterday for retirees who want to attend class for no credit and no cost.

About 100 are expected to enroll in the senior guest program this summer, with another 200 signing up for fall classes, said Lenora Sawyer, who manages Kent State’s Gerontology Center.

“It’s a service to seniors to keep them (active) mentally and physically, and it adds to their quality of life,” Sawyer said. “There are some advantages (for other students) to having seniors in the classroom. You’re studying something that maybe they’ve lived through.”

Most of the seniors who participate live in Portage and Summit Counties, and a majority are women, Sawyer said. Seniors had a choice to register for any undergraduate class with open seats, but most opt for music, art and introductory classes like Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe.

“We leave it up to the professor and the senior guest to determine how much they want to participate,” Sawyer said. “If they want to take tests and participate in group projects, they need to arrange that.”

One senior guest was a science student during his own college days and came to Kent State to see if any underlying concepts of physics had changed, Sawyer said. They hadn’t. Another couple was able to enroll in a class where their daughter was the professor.

According to Ohio law, all public universities and colleges must allow senior citizens to attend classes on a non-credit, space-available basis. Kent State began its program before the law took effect, Sawyer said.

The program has no cost to the university aside from administration, and the only cost to seniors is a small fee to cover course and office expenses.

Many participants choose to give back to Kent State through volunteer work, Sawyer said. Seniors have aided with office work, served as greeters and worked at the university airport and museum. The entire senior volunteer program is itself administered by a senior volunteer.

The senior guest program is open to all Ohio residents age 60 or older and to those from 50 to 59 who are retired. Registration information is available from the College of Continuing Studies at 330-672-2002.

Contact continuing studies reporter Adam Milasincic

at [email protected]