Frequently Asked Questions
About Midcoast Senior College
Q: What is Midcoast Senior College (hereafter as MSC)?
A: We are a nonprofit program for older adults headquartered at the Midcoast Center for Higher Education at 9 Park Street in Bath. We are one of eighteen autonomous, self-governing senior colleges in the State. We serve the area from Damariscotta to Freeport and inland towards Augusta.
Q: What is the purpose of MSC?
A: Our mission statement: to provide non-credit academic courses and other educational events for people 55 years and older to continue lifelong learning.
Q: How do I contact MSC?
A: Our office is at the Midcoast Center for Higher Education at 9 Park Street, Bath, Maine. Tel: (207) 442-7349. Note: Our office is not staffed at all times. When you phone Senior College you may be asked to leave a message that will be answered within 24 hours, or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I get on your mailing list?
A: Send us an e-mail (email@example.com) with your name and address. Or, fill out the handy mailing list form on our home page. You can also call us (442-7349) with your information. Once on the mailing list, you will receive advance information about course offerings, lecture series, and special events.
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Senior College Courses
Q: What kind of courses do you offer?
A: Course offerings are from across the arts and sciences spectrum, with special emphasis on the Humanities and Social Sciences. Here is a sampling of courses we have offered since our founding in 2000.
Q: Do I have to join Senior College in order to take courses?
A: Yes, you must be a member to take courses. One becomes a member of MSC by paying the annual (calendar year) membership fee of $25. Course fees are additional.
Q: Is there a cost if I want to take a Senior College course?
A: Yes, in addition to the annual $25 membership fee, each course has its own fee, based on the length of the course. See below, under Costs and Registration. Click here for a list of current courses and fees.
Q: Are there requirements for taking courses at MSC?
A: The only requirement for membership is having reached age 55 or older. The spouse or partner of a member may also join and register regardless of age. Our courses welcome all persons 55 years and older, regardless of educational background, race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation or national or ethnic origin.
Q. Are there any prerequisites for taking courses at MSC?
A: There are no individual course prerequisites.
Q. Do I have to take any exams?
A. No, there are no required exams in our courses. However, there may be homework assignments in some courses.
Q: How can I learn what courses will be offered each semester?
A: Fall semester course titles and descriptions as well as a registration form are enclosed in the June newsletter and published on our website. Spring semester course information appears in the December newsletter and on our website. Course information and registration forms are also available at the main campus in Bath, The Highlands in Topsham, and Thornton Oaks in Brunswick.
Q: Can I get credit for a Senior College course?
A: No; all our courses are not-for-credit offerings, without exams or term papers.
Q: When are Senior College courses held and what is their duration?
A: We offer four, six and eight-week classes in the fall semester (early September to early November) and in the spring semester (early March to early May). Beginning in 2011, we offer occasional online courses — particularly helpful for students unable to attend classes at our various locations.
Q: How often do classes meet in each course?
A: All courses meet for two consecutive hours each week. Some courses may include one or more field trips, as indicated in the course description. Online courses have no set meeting times.
Q: Where are Senior College courses held?
A: Most classes are held at the University College site at 9 Park Street in Bath. Among other locations are Thornton Oaks in Brunswick, The Highlands in Topsham, Curtis Memorial Library In Brunswick, Patten Free Library in Bath, Sunnybrook Village in Brunswick, Maine Maritime Museum and Grace Episcopal Church in Bath. (See Directions for more information)
Q: Who teaches your courses?
A: Our Instructors are drawn from area residents. While many have had teaching careers on college campuses or at private or public schools, others may be from business, medical professionals, lawyers, artists, and more. As of Fall 2013, 103 different instructors have offered courses at MSC.
Q: How many students take MSC courses?
A: In our first full year of classes (2001), we enrolled 286 students. In recent years, our total enrollment for both semesters has approached 750.
Q: Whom do I contact if I have questions about a particular course?
A: Send us an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll forward it to the appropriate person.
Q: What’s it like to take a Senior College course?
A: Instructors give no tests, no grades, and no earned credits. Participation in discussion is voluntary. Because the lower age level is 55, our classes often contain two generations. Thus, students’ points of view show wide variation, itself an avenue to new knowledge and perspectives
Q: How much reading is required in each course?
A: Assignments vary, depending on the nature and content of the course. However, In most courses, students are provided with one or more books, and/or copied handout materials (cost is covered by tuition). Reading materials are made available the first day of classes. These are for background information and used as the basis for discussion. Art courses may require additional purchase of supplies. If the instructor wishes students to prepare an initial reading before the first class meeting, materials will either be mailed to students or made available at the Bath campus one week before class begins.
Q: Can I choose to do extra work in a course?
A: Often as early as the second or third week, instructors may provide a list of additional but optional resources which may be available in a local library, bookstore, or on a specific website.
Q: What is an online course?
A: Students who are unable to attend classes at our various locations can use computers and the Internet to converse with each other and with the instructor without leaving their homes. Senior College piloted an online course in Fall 2011 and is planning future online courses from time-to-time.
Q: What computer skills do I need to take an online course?
A: No special computer skills are necessary. If you use e-mail and are familiar with web surfing, you’ll have all the skills you need. Instructions will be provided before the first class. Each student logs into the course, which is password protected, to find the week’s assignment and material to read. The instructor posts questions in a forum to start the discussion going, and everyone joins in as time allows. Thus the course does not meet at a set time — rather students can come and go, and post ideas and reactions to the ideas of others, whenever they wish.
Q: How do I register for an online course?
A: Registration for an online course is no different from registration for any other course. You must be a Member and pay the individual course fee. See Costs and Registration (below) for more details.
Q: Can I evaluate a course that I’ve taken?
A: On the final day of classes, students are asked to give written anonymous comments that provide feedback about the course and make suggestions for new topics they believe would enhance the curriculum.
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Q: How do I become a member of MSC?
A: There is no admission procedure at MSC other than submitting a registration form. The annual calendar-year $25 membership fee can be paid at any time, although most members pay it when they register for courses in the spring or fall semester. You can be an annual member without taking a course.
Q: Do I have to be a member to attend the Winter Wisdom or Summer Wisdom lectures?
A: No; those lecture series are open to the general public and are free of charge.
Q: What are the advantages of membership?
A: MSC members receive these benefits:
• attendance in classes of your choice (note, however, that some courses have limited enrollment)
• mailed copies of our newsletter, The Midcoast Inquirer, that is published three or four times each year.
• social interaction with other students
• participation at the annual Spring Luncheon and Business Meeting
• advance notice of special events
• membership rate on summer excursions
• opportunities for volunteering: e.g., serving on a committee and/or on the Board of Directors, assisting with program administration, and more
• automatic membership in all of the senior colleges in our statewide Network. For example, if you wanted to take a class at another Senior College, you would pay only tuition for the course.
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Costs and Registration
Q: What does it cost to take a course?
A: In addition to the annual calendar-year $25 membership fee, course fees are based on course length:
• each 8-week course is $55 (this fee includes books and/or other materials, e.g., handouts, art supplies, etc.)
• each 6-week course is $40 (including books and/or other materials)
• each 5-week course is $35 (including books and/or other materials)
• each 4-week course is $30 (including books and/or other materials)
• each online course is the same prices as above courses, based on duration of the course (including course materials)
Q: How do I find out what courses are offered?
A: Information about fall semester courses and a registration form are enclosed in the June newsletter and published on our website; information about spring semester courses appears in the December newsletter and on our website. Course information and registration forms are also available at the main campus in Bath, The Highlands in Topsham, and Thornton Oaks in Brunswick.
Q: Is it easy to register for courses?
A: Yes, simply fill out the registration form (available here if you don’t get one in the mail) and mail it to us by the specified date to be included in the initial assignment to classes. Registration is available by phone after the initial assignment of classes. (Online registration is not yet available — stay tuned.)
Q: How many courses may I register for?
A: You may register for as many courses as you wish. However, we recommend that you include alternate choices for each course as many courses have enrollment limits due to the nature of the course and the size of the room where the course is held. The Registration Form explains how to list alternates.
Q: What happens if too many people sign up for a course?
A: If a course is oversubscribed by the date of the initial assignment to class, an impartial lottery system based on computer-generated, randomly-assigned numbers determines who is placed in that course, who is placed on the wait list, and in what order. If a student withdraws from a course, his/her seat is filled by the next person on the waiting list.
Q: What if I don’t get into one of my first-choice courses?
A: Registrants who are not enrolled in one if their first choice courses will be assigned to their alternate choice class and will be notified by phone or email of the change.
Q: How do I know if I got into one of my first-choice course(s)?
A: We’ll notify you if you don’t get in. If you don’t hear from us, you know that you are registered in one of your first-choice course(s).
Q: What happens if I register for two or more courses in a single semester and don’t get into any?
A. You will be assigned to a seat in your first choice of courses in the immediate next semester.
Q: What is the refund policy if I can’t attend a course I registered for, or if I don’t like a course?
A: The membership fee is nonrefundable. If you drop a course prior to the beginning of classes, you will receive a full refund of the course fee. Or, if you drop any length course after the first class meeting, you’ll receive a full refund of the course fee, provided the book(s) and/or other course materials are in like-new condition. A student may drop an 8-week course after the second meeting and receive 50% refund of the course fee with the same provision concerning book(s) and other course materials.
Q: Is financial aid available?
A: Limited tuition waivers are available for 2 classes per year (one per semester), per person. For further information, please call (442-7349) or e-mail us: email@example.com.
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Q: Can I volunteer at MSC?
A: Yes, we have a variety of volunteer opportunities available, including serving on our Board or its various committees, assisting in course registration and other administrative tasks, acting as liaison in classrooms, helping out with lectures, luncheons, and other events. Use skills you already have or develop new ones.
Q: Is there a minimum number of hours for a volunteer?
A: No; you can help for a few hours occasionally or devote more time as you become interested and involved in what we do.
Q: How do I become a MSC volunteer?
A: Call and leave a message (442-7349); e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org); mail us your name and information (9 Park St., Bath ME 04560) or give it to the course volunteer in your class.
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Q: What else does MSC offer besides courses?
A: We offer four other programs open to the public and Special Events for members only:
1. Winter Wisdom is our lecture series commencing in early January. It consists of six programs combining lecture (often illustrated) with discussion. The programs are on consecutive Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. These programs are free and open to the public. Watch for announcements in the December newsletter, on our website, in local newspapers, and elsewhere.
Winter Wisdom Storm Cancellation Policy — if the Brunswick schools are closed because of inclement weather, our scheduled Winter Wisdom lecture is postponed to a later date.
2. Summer Wisdom is similar to our winter program and consists of four or five lectures held at 7 pm on Wednesday evenings in the month of June, also at Curtis Library and open to the public. Announcement of this series appears in the April newsletter, on our website, and elsewhere.
3. Current Events Forum, in conjunction with Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, will be offered in the Spring Semester beginning in March, 2012. It will be free and open to the public.
4. Excursions and Special Events are supported by our Special Events Committee. They have included day-long summer excursions to museums, art galleries, theatres, and historical sites. Occasionally during semesters we conduct weekend workshops. In June, MSC hosts a festive luncheon for students and faculty from the previous fall and/or spring courses.
Q: If I sign up for a summer excursion, can I take a friend who is younger than 55?
A: Yes; a spouse or a guest may be younger.
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Miscellaneous Notes About MSC
Q: What if I can’t drive?
A: Unfortunately we are unable to make car pooling arrangements. However, our students frequently make arrangements on their own. Those living in community residences may be able to arrange for a van. Check with you local events coordinator.
Students unable to attend classes at our various locations should inquire if an online course is available that semester.
Q: How many courses does MSC offer each semester?
A: Currently, we offer approximately 18 to 21 courses each semester with over 365 students.
Q: Who runs MSC?
A: MSC, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is administered by an Board of Directors of 15 MSC members that meets monthly for planning and policy decisions. The Board has standing committees for administration, curriculum, development, finance, membership, nominating, policy, public relations, special events, technology and volunteers. Our day-to-day operations are run by volunteers. Indeed, all of our instructors, board and committee members, and administrative staff are unpaid volunteers. The good spirit of our endeavor becomes apparent.
Q: How do I apply to teach a course at MSC?
A: Contact us by e-mail (email@example.com) or regular mail (9 Park Street, Bath ME 04530) with your background information and course proposal. We will forward them to our Curriculum Committee which makes final decisions about curriculum matters.
Q: How often is your newsletter published?
A: The Midcoast Inquirer is published three or four times each year and is mailed to more than 1,200 seniors. Articles from past issues are available on our website (Click here).
Q: What is your storm cancellation policy?
A: We are closed when University College is closed. Students who have a scheduled class during a storm or pending storm may phone University College at 442-7736 to hear a message concerning closing of the campus. In addition to this source, instructors may wish to establish a system of e-mail notification and/or a phone tree.
Q: Does MSC have a cafeteria for its students?
A: No we do not operate cafeteria services. However, a privately-run café calling itself “Coffee 101” is open on the second floor of our Park Street campus with elevator access.
Q: What parking is provided?
A: That depends on the location of your classes. For classes at our Park Street campus, the student lot is located across the street from the main campus entrance. Additional parking is available behind the building ( turn left at Washington street and turn in at the Medical Center.) There is parking with a walkway around to the front door. Parking along Park Street is limited to 2 hours, not sufficient time for students in a two-hour class. Avoid a ticket.
For parking at our off-site locations, see our Directions page.
Q: Is smoking allowed?
A: Smoking is not permitted within 50 feet from the entrance doors to the Park Street campus. Smoking at the other venues that we use is governed by their policies.
Q: Who can attend the spring luncheon?
A: All faculty are invited to the luncheon, along with students enrolled in courses in the Spring and the previous Fall semesters. Sign up by telephone at 442-7349 or by e-mail.
Q: Can I make a financial contribution to the work of MSC?
A: Yes, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, we welcome your financial support of our endeavors. Visit the Support MSC page for full information.
Q. What is the Wheeler/Thompson Award?
A: The Wheeler/Thompson Founders Award was established by the Board in 2009 in honor of the two co-founders of Midcoast Senior College, Nancy Wheeler and Jack Thompson. Past and present Members/Students of MSC, faculty, staff and others who have supported the Senior College in significant ways are eligible for the award. Sitting members of the Board of Directors are not eligible.
Q: Can I nominate someone for the Wheeler/Thompson Founders Award?
A: Yes; follow this link to the Founders Award page for details on how to nominate someone.
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