An investigation of educational services perceived as needed by older persons which may be provided by the community college
An investigation was conducted at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia in order to (1) obtain a descriptive profile of the elderly in its community; (2) determine what factors affected attendance of the elderly at the college; and (3) ascertain the educational services perceived as needed by older persons in the Metropolitan area of Richmond, Virginia which may be provided by the community college.
The design of the investigation was a questionnaire mailed to 400 participants systematically drawn from a list which was representative of the population of those age 60 and over in Metropolitan Richmond, Virginia. The list was provided by the Capital Area Agency on Aging. Structured interviews were conducted with the nonrespondents. One hundred and thirty four responses were received through the mail, and 101 persons responded through interviews for a total response rate of 59 percent. Age, sex, marital status, race, and income were cross tabulated with transportation, health, level of education achieved and desired, and employment status to determine what factors affected the attendance of the elderly at the community college. Potential courses, programs or activities were ranked in their order of importance by the elderly.
The respondents to the study resided in Metropolitan Richmond, Virginia. Sixty-eight percent of the participants were between 60 and 69 years of age. The median age was 67. Sixty-six percent were female, 50 percent were married, and 59 percent had an annual income of $6,000 or above. Over half of those who responded to employment status were unemployed" and did not indicate a need for employment. The non-white older adults had more need for and showed more interest in further education than white adults. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents to this investigation said they would attend the college if classes were offered at a convenient time and location, and 41 percent said they would not.
Factors which affected attendance at the community college were transportation, health, physical handicaps, time and location of course offerings, and lack of awareness of the educational services available at the college. Forty-seven percent of those who would attend the college preferred classes in the morning, and 82 percent desired a location near their homes for college activities.
The older adults were interested in varied courses, programs and activities, such as Home Maintenance, Care of House Plants, Tennis, Bowling, Health and Nutrition, Needlework, Legal Information, English Skills, and Painting and Sketching. There are two major hindrances in delivering information to the elderly about the college: visibility and flow of information. Many older adults are isolated. More aggressive and innovative approaches to reaching the aged should be initiated by the community college.
Programs for assessing the needs of the elderly should be ongoing at the college. Courses, programs and activities designed for today's elderly may have to be redesigned in the future.