Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.7

December 2, 2004


Seniors have a lifelong thirst for knowledge

By Lina Shoumarova

Left to right, Dolly Tiger, Stella Dahan and Fernande Dahan

Left to right, Dolly Tiger, Stella Dahan and Fernande Dahan at a meeting of the Senior Students Bridge Club. “Usually, we are about 10 people,” explained Dolly Tiger, who has been playing the game since the age of 15. She is the teacher of the group and also a student in the Seniors Non-Credit Program. The theatre class she took last semester left her with "wonderful impressions," she recalled.
Photo by Lina Shoumarova

Seniors are part of Concordia’s diverse student community. They’re people with a thirst for knowledge who, after years spent in the workforce, still find it exhilarating to be in the classroom and learn.

Now in its twenty-first year,

Concordia’s program for seniors has doubled in the past four years to 600 students. The figure reflects a renewed interest in continuing education among people of all ages.

Of the 600 current senior students, approximately 250 are studying for credit, said Sylvia de Niverville, the program co-ordinator.

The rest are considered independent students, who, for a small fee, audit courses for their own interest and

enrichment. They listen to lectures and participate in class discussions, but are not required to write assignments or final exams.

In 1995, the age restriction for senior students was lowered from 60 to 55 years. Currently, there are several nonagenarian students in the program, the oldest being in her 94th year.

Five annual scholarships of $500 each encourage senior students to study for credit, and ultimately, for a degree.

In addition, the program has established the T.J. Madden Bursary to support full-time first-year under-graduate students.

Outside of the classroom, the senior students participate in various social activities organized by the Concordia Seniors Social Committee.

They visit ethnic restaurants, participate in film discussion groups, enjoy twice-a-year pot lucks, or games such as bridge or scrabble on a regular basis.

Senior students love the exchange with young people, whom they find sophisticated and outspoken. One senior student, a former teacher who wished her name not be mentioned, was pleasantly surprised to discover that professors encourage in-class discussion, something she doesn’t remember to be the case 50 years ago when she did her BA at Queen’s University.

Another senior student who also worked as a teacher said there is an “equalization process between students and professors.”

“Students nowadays are less reluctant to challenge the teacher,” she noted. Having done her master’s in counselling at McGill in the ’70s, she is now indulging her passion for languages by taking courses in Italian, French, and hopefully, German, in the future.


“Classes today are much more multicultural then when I was a student in the ’70s,” she added.

Norm Goldman worked as a notary before retiring three years ago and is now auditing courses in several different areas.

“Senior students bring maturity and knowledge to the classroom, as well as a vast amount of experience,” he said. He is sometimes asked for advice or feedback of a paper by the undergraduate students in his classes. Goldman was very enthusiastic about the use of the Internet, a “terrific tool” for both students and professors.

The seniors have some general advice for younger students: Take advantage of the abundance of resources, cultural programs and academic opportunities that the university offers.