Lancaster – When Jerry Snider was asked to describe himself, his answer spoke volumes.
"I am not a typical anything."
Snider will be 62 years old next month and is celebrating by taking classes at Ohio University Lancaster. Snider is part of the 60+ program where seniors can take college courses free of charge.
"I found out that I could go to any state university free after I'm 60 and take the classes I wanted, granted the professor gave permission and they had room," said Snider. "I didn't have to buy the books. I didn't have to take the tests. I could just go there and have fun."
Ohio University Lancaster offers free courses to Ohio residents age 60 and over. The courses available in this program are the standard courses offered to degree-seeking students, however those in the 60+ program do not receive college credit.
Snider decided that this was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. After thinking about it for a year, Snider retired from his job at the American Red Cross and came to class.
"I felt like this was something I needed to do. So, I retired on Friday and the following Tuesday, I was in class at OUL," said Snider. "My first class was a writing class, and there were 10 of us. All of my classmates were either slightly younger than my children or slightly older than my grandchildren. But, they welcomed me in, and I'm having a great time!"
Snider has a bachelor's degree from Ohio University in Communication. He took some classes at OUL 40-some years ago and said the regional campus is very different now.
"Professors used to drive up from Athens. The campus is a lot bigger now. They've added on to it with classes and groups," said Snider. "There's something here for everybody."
Snider is taking a class on the history of comedy in TV and film. It's a perfect class for Snider, who has been doing stand-up comedy for years.
"There I am with all of my role models, The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Martin and Lewis and my arm is black and blue, I'm pinching myself," said Snider. "I think I'm dreaming. I'm in school. I'm having fun. I got a new box of crayons and a Snoopy lunch box, and I can't wait to get on the bus every morning."
Snider said that college is very different than it used to be. He is trying to figure out how to fit into a higher education world where technology is king.
"I'm on a different planet now. We used to have typewriters. Cell phones weren't around. Faxes weren't around," said Snider. "Now nobody looks you in the eye. They're all going down the hall bouncing their thumbs off gadgets and gizmos. It's just a different planet. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? I don't know, but we'll find out."
Snider recently attended a meeting of Adults Belong in College. He thought the student organization sounded interesting and it would be an opportunity for him to meet others like himself.
"Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes," said Snider. "I hope the students are learning something from me. When you go through grade school, you're all with the same age. But out in the real world, you're with a mix of all ages and all personalities. So you got to mix in the old tigers with the young tigers and see what happens. So, I think it's good."