Program Offers Seniors a Seat in the College Classroom

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 31, 2010 with No Comments

By Neal F. Litherland

The word sage is meant to refer to a person who has a great deal of wisdom, and who can make accurate judgments. In many cultures it is the elders in society who are identified with this term because they are the wisest among a group, and because their age attests to the fact that they were strong and smart enough to survive so long. It is with this in mind that Valparaiso University’s Continuing Education program is inviting seniors in the community to participate in the school’s Senior Adult Growth through Education (SAGE) program by auditing classes.

As the name for the program implies, SAGE is a continuing education program that is designed to allow seniors to participate in the courses offered at Valparaiso University. SAGE encompasses more than 70 different areas of study at the university including art, history, English, theology, economics, business and a number of different foreign languages. Seniors are allowed to become a part of classes on a “space-available” basis, which means that as long as there are spaces not being taken up by students paying full tuition, a SAGE student may audit the course.

There is a difference between going back to school as a degree-seeking student and auditing a class through the SAGE program at Valparaiso University. The word “audit” means “to listen,” and basically that is what SAGE students do with their courses. SAGE students audit courses by attending the classes and listening to lectures as well as by participating in class discussions and bringing their unique point of view to the course by offering a set of new, wiser eyes to the college classroom. SAGE students do not receive credit to add towards a degree, nor do they have to be graded by the professor. On the other hand though, SAGE students do not have to complete homework assignments, write papers or take tests, although these students are more than welcome to if they wish.

“Many seniors are finding it personally enriching to continue to learn and stimulate their mind,” Dr. David Rowland, the dean of graduate studies and continuing education at Valparaiso University, said. “The SAGE program provides an avenue for senior adults to perhaps return to a subject that first interested them decades ago in college, but were never able to pursue because of other demands.”

The SAGE program offers opportunity for seniors to pursue education in subjects that interest them, to help educate the young and to bring fresh perspectives to both generations. The program also has certain costs that SAGE students will need to pay. While those costs are nowhere near what a regular, degree-seeking student would pay for their education, they are still far from free. SAGE students must pay a $95 administrative fee per semester they participate in, and SAGE participants are also charged $60 per credit hour with the average course being three credit hours. There is also a one-time fee of $30 for all SAGE students when they first sign up for the program. SAGE is only available for students who are 60 years old, or who are officially retired.

Common knowledge says that we are never too old to learn, and the SAGE program offers a halfway point between seniors going back to school full time and not going back to school at all. So regardless of the subject, any senior who has a desire to learn, to share knowledge or to just pick up where they left off in a subject, the SAGE program might be a place to go looking for answers.

For more information on the Valparaiso University SAGE program, visit, or call the Valparaiso University Graduate School and Continuing Education Office at 219-464-5313.

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal:

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