Joe Rogers: The plus side of old age

Published 9:51 am Monday, May 15, 2017

Among the advantages of reaching geezer status is that it offers certain financial perks not available to most whippersnappers.

(A whippersnapper, in my usage, is anyone younger than I am.)

So-called senior discounts are all over the place, from Banana Republic to Taco Bell. Ages vary, starting around 55 to the somewhat standard 65.

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I haven’t done as good a job as I should have taking advantage; that’s definitely a candidate for my to-do list. But sometimes you just stumble across them.

A visit to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park, N.Y., for instance, introduced me to the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. Ten bucks (soon to rise to $80, I hear) and now I’m good for life, with up to three companions.

This might be the only instance so far in which my wife finds it beneficial to be married to an older guy.

Another came via an elementary school classmate, who mentioned that she had signed up for free classes at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. That sounded like an intriguing concept – I’ve long planned to take classes in retirement, and the possibility that they might be free made it sound all the better.

The classmate sent me a link that shows what every state offers in the way of free college classes.

Mississippi is hit-or-miss, it appears, with no statewide legislation applying. But some institutions do offer programs, among them Ole Miss, under its Lifelong Learners program.

“Through this program, seniors may enroll in one academic course (up to 4 credit hours) that is being offered during the spring, fall or combined summer sessions tuition-free,” according to the website.

How cool is that?

Mary W. Leach, director of Outreach and Continuing Education, advised that 12 people are participating during this spring semester, nine male and three female.

History, English and language courses are the most popular, she said.

No real surprise there. I would probably lean that way, too, unless I could find a graduate-level offering in beer appreciation, say.

Then again, maybe I should retake that physical science course that formed a blot on my Ole Miss record. (Lesson learned: Do not study for a test while drinking Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.)

One nit to pick: It appears that State’s tuition waiver is even better than Ole Miss’s. For starters, you only have to be 60, instead of 65; and you can enroll in two classes, not one.

Come on, Ole Miss. Do you really want State to take the lead in anything not related to farm-animal husbandry?

I am a little surprised at the gender breakdown. I would have expected more women than men, for various reasons, among them the fact that women are way smarter than guys, generally, and that men tend to keel over at a higher rate in the upper age regions.

I’m also surprised that more people of both genders aren’t taking part. Free is hard to beat as a discount. But I do recognize one possible disincentive:

Nothing makes a geezer feel his age quite like being surrounded by a bunch of whippersnappers.


Joe Rogers worked for The Clarion-Ledger, The Tennessean and The New York Times. He can be reached at or on Twitter @jrogink.

About Joe Rogers

I'm a retired newspaper journalist and a Mississippi native who found himself living and working in New York.

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