Granny is graduating
April 29, 2007 9:26 PM   Subscribe

“I never think of my age,” she said. “We don’t die at a certain age. And if people didn’t know they were getting a certain age, maybe the same age their father died or their mother died, I think they’d be better off.”
Nola Ochs, 95, will soon become the oldest person to graduate from college, according to Guinness World Records.
posted by Brittanie (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Last link includes comments from classmates and other non-traditional students.

I turn 27 next month and I'll probably never write that novel. But it's never too late to try.
posted by Brittanie at 9:27 PM on April 29, 2007

Good for her! That's quite inspiring.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:52 PM on April 29, 2007

Post secondary education is over-rated.

- wishes that I had gone into a trade
posted by porpoise at 10:02 PM on April 29, 2007

The first time she went to college it wasn't until she was in her late 50s.
posted by Brittanie at 10:51 PM on April 29, 2007

And she'll be the only person to have health insurance after she graduates.
posted by three blind mice at 10:54 PM on April 29, 2007

“I can remember when my father had to register for World War I,” said Ochs.

And he sure as hell wasn't fighting the Hun so you could take thirty-plus years to get your degree! Slacker.
posted by rob511 at 11:03 PM on April 29, 2007

95 may be pushing the envelope a bit, but I've often wondered why older students are treated like such freaks. Why should a 20 year old be considered a more adaptive student than a 40 yr old, or a 50 year old? Why would a product of early 90's media be the best prepared intellectual force to adapt our society to what may be a big slip back to the 19th century? I've met a few geezers lately whose 'mainstream ideas' (circa 1941) are as useful, and as radical, as anything I've read in the last 10 years.
posted by maryh at 11:04 PM on April 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Those are excellent points maryh. A person pursuing education during any age is a great thing. I remember seeing a presentation by Mary O'Hara-Devereaux where she mentions that academic institutions will have to adapt in the future to providing constant education instead of on a 4 year basis. Not simply a degree but constant classes to stay on top. They may also be more inclined to focus on the burgeoning elderly population in years to come.
posted by andendau at 12:20 AM on April 30, 2007

That's lovely - really inspiring. And I love the bit you quoted as well, Brittanie. She sounds really wise and would be an intriguing addition to any classroom. Good find.

Wonder how her grandchildren are taking this *grins*
posted by Phire at 12:24 AM on April 30, 2007

porpoise: I had a trade (albeit a fairly narrow one, with only 1 or 2 potential employers). It's over-rated.

It might just be the university / campus I'm attending, but at 40 I don't seem to be treated like a freak. If anything, the ones straight from school are the freaks (in the eyes of the lecturers I've chatted to) - they don't talk, they don't ask questions, they don't socialise (outside of their little group of 1 or 2 people they went to school with) and, above all, they don't think for themselves. I'm sure they'll come around (I think the mid-semester exams, particularly the relationship between "what's taught in the lectures" and "what's on the exam", were a shock to most of them!), but it's remarkable how everything - the marks, the social scene, the relationship with lecturers & peers, everything - seems to split between "was at school last year" and "has been out of school for at least 1 year". The school leavers are generally blowing it; we oldies (from 19~50) are generally blitzing it.

We also have skills honed in workplace combat which come in handy sometimes...

My hero? Our 75 year old course co-ordinator. Well-published in marine/freshwater biology & microbiology, ecology, limnology, paleolimnology, etc, the silly bugger keeps coming back year after year to teach first-year undergrads. I don't think I could do that!
posted by Pinback at 12:32 AM on April 30, 2007

Pinback: Your uni sounds like a little slice of heaven... *sigh* I'm wondering, though, why there aren't more programs in place for older students? Or am I missing something?
posted by maryh at 1:05 AM on April 30, 2007

Fantastic! Now she's got life experience (plenty of it) AND a degree! She'll go far!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:06 AM on April 30, 2007

That's actually one criticism many worldwide have of the US system. In many countries education is not tied to age, and it's no big deal if someone goes back to university at 25 or 35 or 55 or if they study part-time and take eight years instead of four.

The American idea that students should attend university for exactly four years and four years only beginning immediately after high school without a break appears to me to be detrimental to both the students and to society. Let the kids work for a year or two before they start. Let them take five years to finish their degree. Let them study part-time. Stop pushing them so hard when they're in high school. Make admission dependent on their grades alone, not on which ultra-pricey extra-curricular activities their parents could afford.
posted by watsondog at 2:40 AM on April 30, 2007

I was about to make a similar point: I teach an undergrad and an MSc course in the UK and we welcome mature students. They tend to be far better students in my experience: they've made a conscious decision about what they want to do rather than falling into it at 18 for the sake of doing something, they often bring skills with them which are relevant, they are less afraid to interact in class meaningfully and they generally have a more mature attitude to work. This tends to contribute to better classes and can help to lift the younger students and push them further than they might otherwise go.

I think it would be to most students' advantage if they got a few years of work under their belt before higher education.
posted by biffa at 2:48 AM on April 30, 2007

Pinback - I hear you. It was mostly a knee jerk response from me in a spat of economic depression.

There are a lot of apathetic young people like you describe but there are also ones who actually want to be in classes and want to learn the material, too. I guess I was lucky and went to a small private lib arts college where the class sizes are capped at 25. I also spent a semester at a State Uni - and I've observed (and had been) active participants in classes.

Even at the graduate level there are people who won't participate in class discussions - but by then the majority are active participants, especially when the topic interests them.

If I was made a benevolent unwilling Platonic philosopher-king, I'd make available to the populace post-secondary-level classes in a wide variety of topics free (maybe even paid - in order to offset child caring or time-off-job related costs) to encourage critical thinking and, well, philosophy - the love of thinking - in my citizens.

But as an unwilling tyrant, I wouldn't need to worry about my populace voting me into power.

At my Uni there's a prof who's secured government and charity money to offer science courses to the homeless and indigent (and to highschool classes). It's Good StuffTM and I wish there were resources to offer it to a wider audience. Although the pessimist in me thinks that there isn't a wider audience to serve.
posted by porpoise at 7:44 AM on April 30, 2007

I say she's just there to chase boys and party. You know those college girls...
posted by jonmc at 8:26 AM on April 30, 2007

youth is wasted on the young.
posted by patricio at 10:17 AM on April 30, 2007

That's really cool.
posted by Many bubbles at 11:41 PM on May 2, 2007

« Older "We're the ones that stand up and tell you the...   |   With nature and a camera Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments