Some people figure a basic high-school education — give or take a college degree or two — is enough for a lifetime. The instructors at Rollins College, however, disagree. They believe learning should continue well into the twilight years.
Rollins is hosting its STARS classes — personal enrichment courses — aimed at men and women at age 50 and older.
“(Our students) are looking for a connection to Rollins College,” said Peggy Smith-Clayman, executive assistant and coordinator for the STARS program. “They want to keep themselves challenged. They’re looking for all types of classes and that’s what we’re trying to do — find what it is they’re looking for and get it to them.”
Although much of the liberal arts college’s curriculum provides more standard classes and subjects, the STARS classes cater to a wider array of interests. Courses go over theoretical and practical subjects, including basket weaving, political discussions, artist retrospectives, card games, yoga, understanding digital interfaces and more. There are about 20 to 25 classes each month, according to Smith-Clayman, that typically meet once a week for about an hour.
“It’s a holistic education,” said Erik Kenyon, director of student and faculty engagement at Rollin’s Hamilton Holt School. “It’s not just knowledge for knowledge’s sake. This is what life’s about — we should always be learning.”
The school has offered STARS classes since 2013 but recently brought Kenyon aboard to increase engagement. Something both Smith-Clayman and Kenyon have noticed is their older students harbor both a fear of becoming isolated in their old age and a need for community. To that end, many of the classes are small and group-discussion based — Smith-Clayman said several classes have return students who have made lifelong friends.
With a background in ethics, Kenyon is particularly excited to host a class where STARS students will observe and work with young children learning ancient ethics and philosophy at the college’s child development center.
There’s no restriction on how old people interested in the classes have to be. Smith-Clayman said although most of the students are between 60 and 70, a few are a younger. Registration for the classes is currently open.
“There’s a lot of people out there who just want some substance,” Kenyon said. “They want some connection beyond something that’s just a potluck.”
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IF YOU GO
STARS Senior Enrichment Courses
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