'No time like the present': 71-year-old Rider University student has no plans to stop learning

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "If there's something in life you want to do, there's no time like the present to get started," said Carol Curtis.

Curtis jokes that she can't tell if she's 17 or 71 years old. It's hard to blame her, since she was taking classes at Rider University at both ages.

"So many people said to me, you're going back to school, I wish I did. There's a lot of people out there who never finished their degree," she said. "Well, I took one class at a time while I worked all day and you just do it."

Curtis first graduated with an associate's degree in 1969. She went on to become a wife, mother, and assistant to financial advisors. But she always wanted to return to school for her bachelor's degree.

That dream came true in 2011. Yet, Curtis still had an itch to get back into the classroom.

"Great thing about school is you can audit classes as an alumni," she said. "I've been doing that ever since 2011."

Each semester, Curtis draws from a list of courses in which she participates, but receives no official credit. She has studied terrorism, counter-terrorism, and drugs in America. She also traveled the world with Rider University while studying countries like China, Cuba, and more.

"With COVID I needed something that would just be fun," she said. "So now, I'm taking a class on Bruce Springsteen."

The course, "Unpacking Bruce Springsteen," is one of many unique course offerings that branch out from the typical core studies.

"Lifelong learning is something that everyone should aspire to," said Dr. Kelly Bidle, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "If people are interested in those types of classes, just contact our office of admissions and come in through our continuing education programs."

Curtis has no plans to hit the brakes while at Rider University. She hopes to complete a master's degree and complete social work for the good of her community. Coincidentally, she was randomly chosen to receive a year's worth of tuition for free. But Curtis thought the gift belonged in better hands and refused to accept.

"The students today have so much debt. I couldn't in good faith take it," she said. "I don't need it for a career, whereas a lot of other people do."

To learn more about Rider University and its music course offerings, visit their website.

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