We geezers want to keep our minds active. But just adding up our golf scores and planning vacations doesn’t cut it. “Beginners Bridge” is fine, but some of us want some real meat to chew on (if our dentures can handle it, metaphorically speaking). We’re talking about attending undergraduate classes at the local colleges. Especially the ones within easy Dial-A-Ride distance from those senior communities that advertised “close to college.”
We’re not concerned with matriculation – in fact, we still don’t know what that means. We don’t want an advanced degree. We just want to sit in on regular college courses and take notes in an old-fashioned spiral notebook, or computer notebook if the grandkid will lend it to us. So what college subjects are popular with senior citizens?
Religion – particularly classes that have to do with God. We’re getting closer to him or her now so we’d like to have all the facts possible. You know, a Pearly Gates cram course.
History. What the heck was that Peloponnesian war about anyway? Hey, where is Peloponnesia? Is a bus tour available? Or how about learning details about some of the little wars we only memorized the dates of like the French-Indian war. Who were the good guys? The French or the Indians?
Literature. We now have the time to reflect on the language, style, and metaphors of the great poets. Why do good fences build good neighbors anyway? If I tried to build a fence, the first thing my neighbor would do is send his lawyer out with a Platt map. Maybe the French 17th century poets would be easier. Was this poetry inspired by fighting with the Indians?
Science. When we went to school an atom had a nucleus, electron and proton. Period. Apparently, over time, the atom has grown. So we want to know what all that other stuff is and how it got here. And it might be nice to know how it’s going to help us live longer and healthier.
Some colleges, however, report intimidation of students and teachers because some senior citizens who audit classes believe they know more than the professors. Well, there are some subjects we know a thing or two about.
American History? Vietnam combat. Been there, done that. Vietnam protests. Been there, done that also. And geezers can provide insight into little known historical events – like sitting in a line waiting for gas or paying 22% interest. And we know world history too, because we’ve been on tour buses with local guides who have provided the minutest detail about every rock the bus passes. We even have the pictures to prove it.
Psychology? They especially don’t like us auditing child psych classes. We’ve raised our children and spoiled our grandchildren. We could be guest speakers except we spend too much time in class laughing at what the professor says.
The most intimidated professors are the ones who love to spew their opinions as facts. Geezers have bought and sold enough used cars to know BS when we hear it, so we tend to stop the professor in mid-sentence and say something like “Poppycock.” Some professors just can’t handle the truth.
Other professors, of course, are quite happy to have students who are willing to sign up for morning classes, sit in the front rows, listen intently, contribute insightfully, and stay awake during the entire class.
We also like the Adopt-A-Senior program some of the universities have. It’s the pairing of an auditing geezer with an undergraduate student. If you’re a single geezer it’s a great way to meet studs and babes – and their single mothers and fathers – or widowed grandmothers and grandfathers.
One drawback to senior citizen auditing is attendance, particularly if the class meets three times a week. You know, we still enjoy our golf and bridge dates. And, as they say, all school and no play makes for a dull geezer. (Was that said by some 17th century French poet?).
I think geezer auditing will continue because the schools themselves like having us around. They think we have short memories and perhaps the last thing we’ll remember is that college that offered a great course, so why not leave them all our money? From the geezer side, donating to the schools may not be such a bad idea. It could help us pass the Pearly Gates entrance exam.