GUEST COLUMN: Lifelong Learning Can Add Life to Your Years!
Ohio's public colleges and universities help older Ohioans unleash their power
May 11, 2016
By John Carey, Chancellor
Ohio Department of Higher Education
As the Ohio Department of Aging's theme for Older Americans Month states, aging IS everybody's business!
At the Ohio Department of Higher Education, we view our older population as a valuable resource and are committed to helping Ohio's elders grow, thrive and contribute to their communities. One of the ways we do that is through our GIVEback. GOforward. pilot program in the Youngstown area. GIVEback. GOforward. allows adults 60 and older to volunteer with one or more education-based programs in the Mahoning Valley. Once a volunteer completes 100 hours of service, he or she will earn a three-hour tuition waiver to Youngstown State University or Eastern Gateway Community College. Volunteers may use the waiver to continue on their own educational path or they may gift it to a friend, family member or other current or prospective student at either school.
Studies show that remaining active physically and mentally keeps a person engaged with life and brings certain health benefits to all involved. Thankfully, in Ohio, there are many ways to stay engaged, and one of the best ways is through our public colleges and universities.
Under Ohio law, residents 60 and older can audit classes free of charge at 13 public universities and 23 community colleges, space permitting and with the professor's approval. Registration methods and programs may vary from one campus to another. Most schools have information on their websites about auditing classes, and some offer help by phone and in person.
Once enrolled, elder students can take full advantage of the classroom experience and complete as much or as little of the course assignments as they choose. Students who audit courses are usually not required to buy books, but they may be required to pay registration, parking and other fees.
Every one of Ohio's public universities and community colleges offers this tuition-free opportunity for Ohio residents 60 and older. What's more, college presidents, faculty members and younger college students enjoy having the non-traditional students in class because they offer a wealth of life experiences that enrich the learning experience for all involved.
Lifelong learning is more than a slogan in Ohio. Because we're blessed to have such a variety of public colleges and universities throughout the state, the opportunities to become involved are everywhere. And auditing classes free of charge means there are few barriers to lifelong learning.
While there are citizens who never had the opportunity to go to college, I also recognize that there are others who may have entered the workforce before completing high school. And I always tell people that it is never too late to earn a GED. I meet inspiring people nearly every day for whom earning a GED at one of Ohio's great Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) sites opened doors to countless opportunities.
We should all be lifelong learners. No matter who we are, we can never learn too much. Visit the Ohio Department of Higher Education's website for more information.
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