Delia Visscher isn’t your average university student.
Unlike many preparing to make their way into educational institutions this September, Visscher won’t live in a dorm or commute from her parents’ house to class. She also likely won’t attend the frosh events, pub crawls or Mardi Gras nights.
At age 75 and with two bachelor’s degrees already under her belt, Visscher is one of thousands of senior students in Canada thriving in retirement through continuing education.
“(It’s) enjoyable, that’s the main thing. I like school and I like studying. I like learning,” Visscher, a former Radio City Music Hall dancer, said. “I love challenges, something to keep you active.”
Seniors, it seems, are a subculture of students on Canada’s campuses who have carved out their own little niche in the halls of higher learning.
While some take regular courses alongside younger students, others choose the seniors’ programs or centres, where older Canadians — Visscher’s oldest classmate was 94 — congregate to learn in their golden years.
According to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, in 2003 there were 4,551 full time and 16,573 part-time students over the age of 50 enrolled in credit courses at Canadian universities.
These numbers are likely to swell as the Canadian population gets older. The Canadian Council on Learning noted in an article last week that in about 10 years, senior citizens will outnumber children in this country.