Never too old to learn
Next time you flop down in front of the TV in the evening because you’re “too tired” to do anything else, you might want to stop and think of George Grossman. He’s an inspiration to us all. At age 82, the Manotick, ON, widower holds the distinction of being the University’s oldest student.
Grossman, who is taking courses through Continuing and Distance Education, has seven-and-a-half credits and is halfway done his studies for a three-year BA in English Language and Literature. This term he’s taking a Sociology course. “I’ve been working on my degree since the 1960s, taking courses whenever I’ve had the time,” he explains.
That’s somewhat easier these days for a variety of reasons. “I wasn’t a very dedicated student when I was young; I was more interested in sports than in school,” he says. “Later, I went out to work, got married, and my wife and I raised nine children. I was always busy. Nowadays I have a bit more time, and I guess you could say that I’m a bit more serious about my studies.”
That’s because Grossman, who retired from a job with the federal civil service in 1995, lives alone. He can hit the books whenever he feels like it. “My problem now is that I don’t have as much energy as I used to have,” he notes. “I tell young people I meet: ‘Don’t wait until you’re 82 to go to university!’”
Most of the students who take courses through Continuing and Distance Studies do so via the Internet. Not Grossman; he receives his course materials, submits assignments, and communicates with his instructors by mail. “I’m an old guy and not really into using computers,” he says. “The mail works just fine for me.”
He especially enjoys the feedback he receives on his assignments and the fact that he can work at his own pace.
Interestingly, Grossman has never met any of his instructors. He has only been to campus once, and that was back in the 1950s, when he was a high school student at Glebe Collegiate in Ottawa. Recalls Grossman, “I was on the football team, and our coach brought a group of players down to Kingston to watch a Queen’s football game. I guess he was trying to get us interested in coming to Queen’s.”
Grossman figures the next time he will visit campus is when he graduates. “If I ever complete my program and earn a degree, I think I’ll attend the convocation,” he says.
And will the new graduate then start looking for a job and a new career? “No, I don’t think so,” Grossman says with a laugh.