Lifelong Learners Community Colleges Cater to Older Students

By Mask, Teresa | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 19, 1998 | Go to article overview

Lifelong Learners Community Colleges Cater to Older Students


Mask, Teresa, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Teresa Mask Daily Herald Staff Writer

Most of the students in these college classrooms have gray hair - or no hair, for that matter.

Several wear bifocals and already have a college degree.

But here they sit, at Roosevelt University's Schaumburg campus, discussing Holy Scripture or human heredity.

"I'd rather be doing this than playing bingo or bridge," says 91-year-old Frieda Cogswell of Palatine.

The great-grandmother is among a growing number of senior citizens who are spending their days stimulating their minds in the classroom.

Based on the urging of Cogswell and other seniors, Roosevelt recently increased the offerings in its Institute for Continued Learning program from 10 to 15.

And the number of students who take the classes is up from just 14 people last semester to more than 100 this spring.

The seniors take two-hour, eight-week courses, which are actually called study groups. There are no grades, homework or college credit. And they are taught by the seniors themselves, including Cogswell.

These collegians, who take as many classes they want for $85, aren't competing for an A or hoping a university's name will help them get a high-paying job.

They enroll simply for the love of learning, for the chance to debate issues, talk about shared experiences and explore new ideas.

Cogswell says that is exactly what college is supposed to be about.

She spent most of her life raising her children and working occasionally as a dance instructor. She got a college degree from Roosevelt when she was in her 60s.

As suburban residents age, more and more are opting to take college courses, say officials at Oakton and Harper Community Colleges.

Senior citizens also are piling into classrooms at the Des Plaines and Palatine schools, buying into the "lifelong learning" mindset. …

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