Universities offer great opportunities for adult learners

Published on April 26, 2013

Educationally speaking, Colchester Weekly News

As you read this, celebrations for the official Adult Learner’s Week have come and gone.  Perhaps you had the opportunity to attend some of the events that were hosted by the various adult learning organizations around the province in celebration of this special week.  

It is important to recognize adult learners and to stimulate interest in adult learning. As readers will know with this monthly column I set myself this task year round.

     There is no more worthy goal for adults than to improve on what they already know. The goal might be to improve their basic education, the increase of skills and knowledge that will allow them to participate to a greater extent in the labour market. Other adults, having retired from full-time employment, may seek out knowledge for the sake of personal interest. It is this latter group that I’d like to speak to in this month’s column.

      It may not be widely known that seniors have access to higher learning on a wide range of subjects at very cost-reduced rates. The Seniors’ College Association of Nova Scotia (SCANS) offers courses during its fall, winter and spring terms. Adults of 50-plus years may become members in this association for a small yearly membership fee of $135.

 This fee entitles the member to attend general meetings, participate in recommendations for courses and attend any of the courses offered. SCANS courses typically take place once per week, for about two hours, over the six- to 10-week term. As these courses are designed for learning and enjoyment, no exams or tests will be given. There is quite a variety to the courses offered, so if you’re a 50-plus adult who wants to expand your mind through knowledge I heartily recommend this option.

     Nova Scotian universities also have special deals for seniors. I recently checked with a couple of the local universities to see what they offer for seniors.

     If you are an age 65 and up senior wanting to attend Dalhousie University, you’ll be pleased to know that you will be able to either just take a few courses or complete a full degree program without paying any tuition cost whatsoever. Now, that’s not to say that attending this university is cost-free.  

You will have to pay for the book(s) for the course, and as a student you must pay certain fees. First, there is a $65 application fee. Next, you must pay an admissions deposit of $200, and for each semester there is a $80.50 student fee. The good news here is that after you pay the admissions deposit, your student fee of $80.50 will be deducted from that.  As a mature student, for general admission, you must have completed Grade 12 academic English with a minimum grade of 65. Depending on what program you apply to, you may or may not have to fulfill other prerequisites prior to admission. The great thing about this option for further learning is that the former agricultural college is now a campus of Dalhousie University, so university study at Dalhousie can now be completed locally.

    As a 65 plus senior interested in attending Mount St. Vincent University you can attend as a mature student to take a few courses or to pursue a degree even if you have not completed your high school education. If you have completed your high school education, as well as some university courses, even if this was done 30  to 40 years ago, you may be able to transfer in some of these previously completed credits, and shorten the time it will take to complete the new degree.  

The only exception to this option to transfer credits would be if you were going to pursue a degree in something like the sciences where courses completed in the past would now be dated.  

Mount St. Vincent University is a bit pricier than Dalhousie, but still a good value for seniors compared to those students under 65 years of age. Mount St. Vincent discounts tuition by 50 per cent for those age 65 and up and grants a Nova Scotia University Student Bursary.

For a senior wanting to start off by taking just a single course, you would pay an application fee of $30. The additional cost of $272.68 accounts for the tuition and mandatory other student fees. With Mount St. Vincent University there is also the option of taking your course by distance (from the comfort of your own home) for a small additional fee of $90 per course. Of course, as a student you’d also have to buy the book(s) for your course(s).

     Without a doubt, the other universities in our great province also have discounted opportunities for senior learning, so feel free to give them a call and see what they can do for you. If you have a few dollars to spare at the end of the month, I can’t think of a better place to spend them than to engage in the mind-stimulating exercise of furthering your education in a university environment. 


Rob MacLellan is an advocate of adult education, a professional educator, and a resident of Alton. He can be reached at: phone: 673-3269, e-mail: robmaclellan@hotmail.com.