Osher gives learning opportunities to people over 50

Carol Roberts is preparing for her first day of school.

This quarter, she'll take classes in a range of subjects, from science to politics, at UC San Diego in La Jolla.

But Roberts isn't the typical college student. She's 79.

The Solana Beach woman will take part in classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, designed for people 50 and over on the UC campus, beginning Oct. 2. There are no tests or grades, and there's very little homework, she said. Most days are filled with lectures, talks with experts and field trips. The professors are all accredited.

"This is purely for the love of learning," noted Roberts, a former tourism agent. "It's so amazing the breadth of everything that you can learn. You can never say there's nothing for you to learn. That really intrigued me."

Osher — which is run by its volunteers and students, referred to by the institute as members — will hold an open house Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. on the UC San Diego campus, 9600 North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, for people who might be interested in enrolling for the upcoming semester. Joining the institute costs an annual fee of $260 or $165 quarterly. Students are not limited to the number of classes they may take at one time.

Valerie Chereskin, 63, of Encinitas, said attending the classes with her husband has given the couple interesting things to talk about and fun ways to spend their time now that they're retired.

"We've always been interested in and curious about learning new things," said the retired public relations consultant. "The quality of the lectures and speakers has just been so good."

After lectures about a topic, experts — such as Nobel Peace Prize recipients and entrepreneurs — are available to answer questions from the students.

Roberts, who originally studied for a profession in the medical industry in her 20s before marrying and becoming a mother, said the classes differ from college in that students can learn about a range of topics, rather than just classes in one major.

"When you're in college, you're focused on a program for your curriculum, but you don't have time for all these extra things," she said. "That's what I go for is the things I've never studied before or never had an interest in before."

Roberts, who spearheads the field trip efforts, said she believes these classes lead their students through "healthy aging."

"I want to keep my mind active, and I don't want to sit at home not doing anything," she said. "I find that the stimulation of the people I meet is incredible."

For more information about Osher, visit http://olli.ucsd.edu , and to RSVP for the open house on Sept. 23, visit http://olli.ucsd.edu/openhouse

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