There may be a lot more grey hairs in classrooms in coming years as a generation of boomers are seeking to pursue lifelong learning through Simon Fraser University’s Continuing Studies and other programs like it.
Delia Visscher, 84, has been taking SFU courses since the 1970s. Visscher earned a degree in French in 1971, but says she kept studying for the love of it. She began with SFU Continuing Studies seniors’ courses and started a second bachelor’s degree in 1996. After graduating, she continued taking the seniors’ courses, earning a liberal arts certificate along the way. This fall, she’ll take her 43rd SFU course in the last decade.
“You get hooked on learning,” she said. “How else are you going to survive in this world? How are you going to form opinions without knowledge?”
Roz Kaplan, Program Director of SFU’s Adults 55+ Program says over the past three years her program has seen a 10 per cent increase in enrollment. Last year Visscher was one of around 3,000 students who took SFU Continuing Studies’ professional development courses. Of those students, 20 percent were over the age of 50.
In addition to the pleasure of learning, Visscher also says she’s heading back to school this fall for health reasons. Her husband suffers from Alzheimer’s and he’s part of the reason she wants to stay in shape physically and mentally. She says studying history and challenging herself with new ideas keeps her mind sharp and focused.
“If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t very well be there for him,” she said.