‘The college experience they never had’: Midland College program for students 50 years and older returns in-person

Local News

MIDLAND, Texas (Nexstar) – ‘College Classics’ is not your typical student program. But perhaps, it is the most interesting program at Midland College.

Classes are specifically tailored to adults over the age of 50.

“It’s really a good program because it gives a lot of these individuals a chance to either come back to college, or maybe get the college experience they never had,” said David Hopkins, Jr., a Henry Professor of History and History Department Chair at Midland College.

‘College Classics’ started more than thirty years ago in the spring of 1989. The program has quite the tenure on campus.

The goal is simple: to teach subjects that locals are interested in and want to learn more about.

“A lot of our students are sixty to seventy, and are retired,” said Brenda Cordero, Associate Director of
Community Programs & Continuing Education. “They still want to get out of the house and do things.”

While classes are not for student credit, grades, nor a degree, that doesn’t give these ‘College Classics’ students a hall pass. They’re still expected to participate and pay attention, something that isn’t all-to-hard for these older, and maybe, wiser students.

“So, everybody brings something to the class that’s unique,” said Richard McKee, Midland College Chief of Police.

McKee is also an instructor. His ‘College Classics’ course is titled ‘Current Topics in Law Enforcement.’ Class started Monday.

“It’s a really interesting class because you never know what topics are going to come up,” McKee said. “We discuss a lot of current events and we break down the events related to law enforcement, what laws are going with a particular incident, and why the decisions were being made.”

Classes like Chief McKee’s are happening in an educational setting. But it’s also informal, and at a low-cost: $25. That gives eligible students entry into at least eleven courses this semester under the program. There are class options like, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ a course taught by Professor Hopkins.

“They’re nice, condensed courses of three-to-four weeks, and they’re very manageable,” Hopkins said. “At least for my classes, there’s no homework.”

Professor Hopkins says his students come from a myriad of different backgrounds, like the oil and service industries – even from education. He says there is a defining difference between his ‘College Classics’ students and the so-called ‘traditional’ students: the former have an incredible amount of life experiences. Ultimately, they are eager to open the textbook again.

“They want to learn about anything they can. One of them once joked, ‘You can talk about bug spray and we’ll sit through it because we want to learn whatever we can,'” Hopkins mused.

While the clear focus of ‘College Classics’ is to teach and to learn, perhaps the biggest part of the program isn’t the curriculum, but the students.

Terry Gilmour is a professor of government and the director of Midland College’s honors program.

“They are looking for ways to keep their minds active, to be engaged in current events. I teach political geography,” said Gilmour.

Gilmour’s class doesn’t actually meet at Midland College, but nearby at Manor Park, a location voted on by her students and one that is accessible to them. Since the start of Gilmour’s Classics course in 2008, she has covered nearly fifty countries with her students. The most recent was Afghanistan. But like the ever-changing events around the world in politics and government, so does her curriculum. No year is like the other.

Midland College offers other courses, too. They include artificial intelligence, the Black Plague, and something much lighter, like clogging.

“It is like a tap dancing, and the ladies, they love it. They come every time,” Bredna Cordero said.

There is still time to register for classes. For those interested, you can visit Midland College’s website here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss