The College at 60 program, a Fordham College of Liberal Studies (FCLS) initiative for older adults, has nearly tripled its enrollment over the last nine years, growing from 90 registrants in the spring of 1998 to a high of 260 last fall.
The program, which has been in place at Fordham University for more than 30 years, offers noncredit courses to people over the age of 50 in areas ranging from creative writing to art history. Cira T. Vernazza, M.A., associate dean and director of the program, said the growing popularity of the College at 60 should be no surprise.
“Why shouldn’t it be growing?” she asked. “The [older]population of Baby Boomers is growing, and they are redefining what retirement is. It used to be resting or playing golf, but today it is not a ceasing of activities but a whole new stage of life. Retirees are creating a mosaic of things they want to do.”
The program is known as the College at 60 because of its location at the Lincoln Center campus, which is on 60th Street in Manhattan. The average age of students in the program is between 65 and 75, and more than 90 percent of them have college degrees. Fordham alumni typically make up about 35 percent of the students.
Vernazza attributed the growth in the program to word of mouth, coupled with effective marketing in the surrounding community. She said that the program draws students from the entire tri-state area, but a “significant core group” comes from midtown Manhattan. The program has targeted its advertising toward grassroots outlets such as the Chelsea-Clinton News and the West Side Spirit and has maintained a regular mailing list of former students and people who have expressed interest in the courses. Word of mouth, however, has played a major role in the program’s growth, she said.
– Janet Sassi