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The Alumni Association welcomes its 38th year of participation in the Senior Auditors Program in which Colorado residents ages 55 and up register to audit CU classes for the fee of $25 a semester.
Of the 340 auditors enrolling this fall, 20 of those seniors are participants in the collaborative program between the Alumni Association and the Circle of Care, an elderly enrichment nonprofit organization on Folsom Street founded three years ago.
Joan Raderman, founder and director of Circle of Care, said the alliance between the two organizations allows Circle of Care volunteers to accompany senior auditors to their classes throughout the semester, and in return pay no fee to participate in the class.
“We are the first program of its kind in the country because the CU Alumni Association was willing to allow the senior audit partners to be able to access and audit a class for free for just helping mobilize somebody,” Raderman said.
The volunteers register for the desired courses, provide transportation to and from campus, as well as attend classes with the senior.
“They basically have a study-buddy to ensure that life-long learning is accessible to everybody,” Raderman said.
Because full-time students are the university’s top priority, senior auditors enroll in a limited selection of classes, restricted by factors such as class popularity and professor preference regarding auditor attendance, according to the Alumni Association.
“[Circle of Care auditors] are willing to take anything,” Raderman said. “They are so grateful to be picked up, to have a friend, get out of their isolation, and be in an environment so dynamic and rich as this university.”
The nonprofit works primarily with elderly citizens who suffer from disabilities, from struggling in financial matters, physical, to social, Raderman said.
“As the years went by, we realized as people age and their physical situation changes, they lose access to resources that can dramatically enhance the quality of their life,” Raderman said, who established Circle of Care in 2003.
Christopher Allred, a senior film studies major, said that he sees the senior auditors as positive influence in the classroom.
“It seems like an interesting way to bring other members of the community into the class,” Allred said.
Allred said that two or three senior auditors participate in his “Jung in Film” course and while that makes his classroom more varied in age, he’s glad that full-time students don’t need to worry about not being enrolled due to class numbers with auditors.
“I guess it opens up that knowledge to a different demographic than just the students, because, without the auditing, the classroom would be a very exclusive environment,” Allred said. “I think it’s good that students take priority, because it seems like [auditors] are just there to learn about the material and to not have any obligation to the course work.”
Eva Lanier, registrar of the Alumni Association Auditors Program, and Raderman both said that CU students are “very gracious” to the seniors.
The Circle of Care Senior Audit Program is accepting volunteers all year, Raderman said.
“If I can get a lot of seniors in the classroom, it’s kind of like a slow and gentle culture change to say, ‘Age is irrelevant, and we all need each other,’” Raderman said.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Nina Holtz at Nina.Holtz@colorado.edu.