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The Virginian Scholars Program Is Revolutionizing Continuing Education For Seniors

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The Virginian Scholars Program Is Revolutionizing Continuing Education For Seniors

A recent article in McKnights Senior Living speculated that The Virginian's Virginian Scholars Program could serve as a national model for continuing education opportunities in today's independent living communities.

The Virginian Scholars Program is launching this fall at The Virginian in Fairfax, VA, to provide its residents opportunities for personal growth and improved cognitive health.

Read the McKnights article here

What Is The Virginian Scholars Program?

Developed by Andrew Carle, former Executive Director of The Virginian and founder of the graduate curricula in senior living administration at Georgetown University, the Virginian Scholars Program was initially envisioned before the COVID-19 pandemic, but only recently has the program got up and running.

The program allows residents to earn credit hours for health and wellness activities, within the senior living community and through outside educational organizations.

Residents can take classes, workshops, fitness, and special activities programming. They can also attend lectures through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University, the Lifetime Learning Institute of Northern Virginia Community College, and the online education platform MasterClass.

Graduating To A More Rewarding Senior Living Experience

There are no tests or grades, but Carle said that residents have incentives to participate. Residents can make the "dean's list" by completing 100 or more credit hour activities during each of four "semesters" each year.

A graduation ceremony at the end of the academic year will celebrate magna cum laude-level "graduates" — defined as completing 500 or more hours, summa cum laude graduates who achieve 400 hours, and cum laude graduates who reach 300 hours. 

The resident who puts in the most hours will be named valedictorian and will receive a $1,000 scholarship to use toward rent.

"We're not only partnering with actual universities and colleges; we're allowing them to achieve levels of distinction," Carle said, adding that residents who want to attend classes or lectures in person will be bussed to those locations. "Why not let them be students again?" he said.

Carle said The Virginian is a natural place to launch a scholars program. Six of the nation's top 10 highest educated counties are in northern Virginia.

"So, this is a perfect fit for a population that values learning and would love to show their grandkids you are never too old to make the dean's list," Carle said. "It's also sending a message to the younger generation that aging is not what you think it is — you never have to stop learning and having fun. That's a great message for everybody."

And This Year, The Classes Are Free For The Taking

The Virginian is paying for the program in the first year with the idea of enticing residents to participate with "scholarships" for memberships to MasterClass and the local lifelong learning programs.

Learn more about The Virginian and the Virginian Scholars Program here. We're sure you'll find it an education in itself.

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