The Agile Mind Needs a Playground of Its Own: Taking University Classes at 65+
By Kathleen Anderson
“Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus,” at least if you are a Maine resident and 65 + and are interested in taking college classes in the University of Maine system for now, or for the rest of your life. There is a program at the Universities of Maine called Senior Tuition Waivers.
“The Board of Trustees authorizes the waiver of tuition and Board-approved mandatory fees for senior citizens who register for undergraduate courses on a credit or audit basis at any university of the University of Maine System.”
My name is Kathleen Anderson and I take classes with a Senior Tuition Waiver. Sometimes, things that seem too good to be true, are true. It is not based on financial need. Everyone, who meets simple criteria, can take classes at no cost on different campuses across the state. I usually take art classes, or a philosophy or history class. I just like to take classes. I already have an undergraduate degree and my masters, so I take classes for personal enrichment although sometimes in moments of delirium, I think about taking classes for credit and getting a second undergraduate degree. Find the most exciting class, choose one that will stretch your brain muscles and add open mindedness to your world view. Being involved with younger students and dedicated faculty is one of the most eye-opening experiences to be found.
Applying is a reasonable process, but it helps to be on good terms with your computer. If you are not friends with a computer, the librarian at your town library should be able to help you on your journey. Each university has a tech desk to aid the beginner with computer dilemmas. The application is just one page. You can get it online or you can call the main phone number of the university and they will mail you the application. The difficult part is choosing the class or classes that you most want to take. There are 8 universities in the Maine system. You can take in person classes or online classes, so you do not even have to live close to a university. This summer, I am taking a Book Arts class at the University of Southern Maine. Next semester, I am taking an online art history class in Augusta.
For example, if you consider taking a class at the University of Maine at Orono: Google – class schedule University of Maine Orono- Do not go to the academic calendar, or the course catalog. Find the class schedule for the semester that you plan to take classes. Fill out as much of the form as possible. You can search the entire schedule, which can be daunting, or put in a single subject and look at the classes in your interest area.
When you have chosen the class or classes for which you want to register, you will need to contact the institution of your choice. Each campus has two forms, tuition waiver and class registration. At the Orono campus, there is a department of Lifelong Learning (DLL). They will help you register for classes. At the other campuses, call the number you need from the list below.
University of Maine- Orono 207-581-3143
University of Maine-Augusta 877-862-1234
University of Maine-Farmington 207-778-7100
University of Maine-Fort Kent 207-854-8650
University of Maine-Machias 888-255-1330
University of Maine-Rockland 207-596-6906
University of Maine-Presque Isle 207-768-9545
University of Southern Maine 207-780-5250
I admit that there are some general problems you might run into. Transportation isn’t always readily available to everyone but when you register and get your student ID then you can ride public city transportation for free. In some counties, you can get a ride through Penquis Cap. Online classes make it possible to take classes from home, but you will need a computer and internet access. If you drive on campus, parking is often limited; you might want to apply for a handicap decal if you need one. Books and art supplies are extraordinarily expensive. Universities have changed since we were younger. Classes are rigorous, but if you audit the class, you do not need to write papers or take exams.
Even, as wonderful as this sounds, it does not fulfill my wildest dreams. I want to take graduate classes with a Senior Tuition Waiver in Intermedia Arts. There are no undergraduate classes in this program. I add diversity and dedication to the classroom environment. No one wants to learn more than I do. Until the University trustees grow older and understand aging and the ardent desires for the latest information, I will have to wait. I’m 71. I am patiently waiting for this added opportunity.