Letter: Obstacles to Continued Learning

Letter: Obstacles to Continued Learning

To the Editor

To the Editor:

Why does George Mason University, place meaningless but annoying obstacles in the path of Senior Citizens who wish to engage in mentally challenging and potentially rewarding experiences?

One of the very nice programs available to Senior Citizens in Virginia is the privilege of auditing courses at state colleges and universities at no cost. These activities earn no credit and cannot be used to meet requirements for a degree but offer Senior Citizens the opportunity to intellectually engage and learn new things. Also, no degree seeker is displaced as the Senior Citizen may attend a class only if there is space available. However, if well-educated and experienced Senior Citizens wish to audit graduate level courses at GMU, they must have an undergraduate transcript, not just proof of having earned a degree, sent to the university. This requires contacting the undergraduate college, having someone on that end locate decades old transcripts (if they still exist!), send them to GMU, have someone at GMU receive them and file them, and maybe have someone look at them, all for documents with little current meaning.

Now, it is easy to understand why someone, of any age, who is seeking a graduate degree should meet this requirement. However, I am speaking here of people who are not seeking credit or a degree, and whose undergraduate degree was earned at least four decades ago. In my case, I graduated from college 52 years ago with a major in chemistry. I can assure you that the field has changed enormously in that half century, as has my life and level of experience (I have gone on and earned a Ph.D., as well as an MBA, both from top tier universities). What possible value does that undergraduate transcript have today?

My understanding is that this requirement is based on internal university policy only, and thus can be changed by the university. I brought this to the attention of Tom Davis, in his role as Rector of GMU, and to Dr. Angel Cabrera, president of GMU. Both kicked the can down the road, and as of this writing, I have not gotten an explanation of why this burdensome requirement is still placed upon Senior Citizens who merely want to audit graduate level courses. Is there no common sense within the ivory tower?

I might add that in my case, in addition to having four earned degrees, including a Ph.D., I taught at GMU in the 1980s as an adjunct for a couple of years. Even so, the requirement for submitting an undergraduate transcript could not be waived! Does GMU simply not want to be “bothered” with Senior Citizen auditors at the graduate level? I call upon GMU to eliminate this requirement for Senior Citizens.

Dennis Chamot