CLEMSON - For many people, time in the classroom ends in high school or college. Once the diploma is hand, people may think their learning days are over.
The staff at Clemson University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute believes it doesn't have to be that way, that learning can take place in the classroom, on the road and even at lunch.
"I call ours curiosity courses, because there is no prerequisite, no grades, no credits, no tests," said Joan Pettigrew with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
The institute is a part of the university's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department.
OLLI's motto is "Because curiosity has no age limit" and the courses attract a wide variety of students, Pettigrew said.
"The majority are retirees," she said. "We have a mix of some full retirees, some who still work part time, and we even have some people who are fully employed who attend some of our courses.
"People come in on the lunch hours to attend some of our Lunch and Learn sessions," Pettigrew continued. "Some people take a day off from work to attend some of our day trips."
The courses are open to anyone, she said.
"Anyone can take any course," she said. "The thing that makes our program unique different from other senior programs is that the core of it is built around an educational concept."
Some of OLLI's very popular courses include religion courses, cooking courses and hiking courses and wellness courses.
"We do several different yoga courses, including tai chi," Pettigrew. "Improving your balance, improving your memory, getting your blood pumping."
The most popular hiking course is the Jocassee Gorges course, she said.
Class size is limited for the hiking courses, Pettigrew said.
"It diminishes the experience if you have a huge group," she said.
Past day trips have included trips to the Louvre exhibit at Atlanta's High Museum of Art.
"Our members like to go and see things like that," she said. "They like to learn. There's plenty of interaction. They can see and hear, and not just be a member in the crowd, get lost in the crowd. They like to interact with the instructors."
Other trips have included Cass Mountain Railroad in West Virginia and a trip to Atlanta to see a production of "Cold Sassy Tree."
Lunch and Learn sessions are one-day courses that last between 90 minutes to two hours.
"They can be on anything from garden pests to how to purchase a digital camera," Pettigrew said. "We've done 'Bambi's Salad Bar: Dealing with Deer in Your Garden' and 'Car Talk,' dealing with how to fix your car."
One series of programs focused on different cooks coming in to teach students how to prepare specific recipes, she said.
Students must be a member of OLLI to take a course.
Membership is $15 a year.
"If you pay the $15 membership, you're a member for the entire academic year, even if you don't take any fall classes," Pettigrew said.
Members receive a CU Student photo ID, OLLI catalogues and newsletters throughout the year, free admission to Clemson Players dress rehearsals at the Brooks Center, discounted library privileges and discounts from local merchants.
Course fees vary by course, Pettigrew said.
"Registration is now open for the fall," she said.
Mail-in registration is open until August 18. After August 18, registration is available by phone or fax, Pettigrew said.
"By mail is best," she said.
OLLI does not offer online or email registration.
Registration is open until the very last class, scheduled for December 15.
"We have fall, spring and May-mester classes," she said. "We don't have a summer sessions. We use the summer time to get ready for the fall."
Osher Lifelong Learning will have an additional home in the near future in the Patrick Square development off of Issaqueena Trail, Pettigrew said.
That building, which may include classroom spaces, an auditorium and teaching kitchen for cooking classes is scheduled to be completed in 2010, Pettigrew said.
For more information, call OLLI at 656-6912 or visit www.clemson.edu/OLLI