Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should I donate to OLLI@CCU when I am already paying for a membership and for classes each semester?
The revenue from membership and course fees and the profit from excursions supplies 25 percent to 35 percent of the annual OLLI budget. Earnings from the endowment funds supply from 3 percent to 7 percent, and the University supplies most of the remaining operating expenses. Those operating expenses include salaries for staff and instructors; printing and advertising costs; building and equipment leases and maintenance; transportation expenses; supplies; and technology upgrades. We have been working steadily on reducing these costs, but they currently total around $1 million annually. We do not want to raise membership or course fees since we want our programs to be accessible to all community members. Since the University may not always be able to continue supporting our programming at the current rate, the best way to ensure that OLLI@CCU continues and even expands its current offerings is to build up the endowment so that the earnings each year are greater and thus the University’s portion of the expense is reduced.
2. What goes on behind the scenes to prepare for the publication of the catalog and the subsequent Taste of OLLI?
The creation of an OLLI catalog requires the coordination of many moving parts. We begin by soliciting course proposals in April for the fall catalog and in September for the spring. Not all instructors meet the first deadline, so we spend May and October securing additional proposals and filling out the curriculum. Once all the proposals are in, the department edits the course descriptions, including excursions, and instructor biographies; we create calendars for each location and adjust times of the classes as needed (in consultation with instructors); we build the “At-A-Glance” section and double-check that we have a room for each class, a balance of topics at each location, and full utilization of our facilities. Then all of our revised copy goes to University Communication for editing. After at least two rounds of this process, we can send our catalog to the printer. We must review and approve the proofs, and then, two weeks later, if we are lucky, our catalogs will arrive. We try to have the catalogs available around the middle of December and the middle of August. Registration usually begins a few days after the catalog is released. The Taste of OLLI then is scheduled for January and September, with one week falling between those dates and the beginning of classes to allow us time to determine which classes are making and to notify the instructors and students if their courses have been canceled due to insufficient enrollment.
3. Why do you only offer a particular class in only one location?
Many of our instructors are extremely generous with their time and will offer their classes at more than one location, but others understandably would rather limit their teaching to a location convenient for them. We try our best to recruit instructors so that we offer a variety of topics at each location, but we are really dependent on the instructors’ availability.
There are two ways that OLLI members can influence what is being offered at a particular location. First, help us find an instructor willing to teach the class at that center. Second, let us know your desires and when we do offer a class, sign up for it early and convince your friends to do so as well. It’s very disheartening to us when we work hard to fulfill our members’ requests for certain classes and then end up having to cancel them for insufficient enrollment.
4. Why can’t I attend a class once before I commit to enrolling in it?
We need to know the enrollment of a class a week before the class begins so that we can determine if it will go forward or not. Unless we have five to six students enrolled, we cannot afford to have a class run. If you look at the whole OLLI@CCU budget (see No. 1), you realize that the costs of any one class exceed the instructor’s pay since we have to print the catalog, advertise our program, register students, supply the equipment and handouts, provide the room, etc. Therefore, we really need to have more than 10 enrolled to justify a class going forward. If a class is not fully enrolled, we need that week’s grace time to inform the instructor and the students, to make the changes in our system, and to update the website. We provide the Taste of OLLI so that students can talk with instructors ahead of time about the class; we put the long descriptions of each class, provided by the instructors, on our website; soon, we will have testimonials about our classes on the website; and finally, we also encourage you to ask other OLLI members about the classes they recommend. There should be no surprises when you attend a class, but if there are, please let us know by filling out the evaluation you receive so that we can make better decisions about what classes we continue to offer.
5. Can I bring a guest to an OLLI class, club meeting or other function?
Enthusiasm for our program is contagious, so we encourage you to bring your friends to all events that are open to the public. The best introduction to OLLI@CCU can be found at the Taste of OLLI, held at the beginning of each semester at all of our centers. Bring all your friends, neighbors and relatives on those days! Occasionally, we also have programming that is open to the public. Our Saturday lectures, for instance, are advertised this way, and we would be happy for you to bring friends with you to the lectures as an introduction to OLLI@CCU. However, to be fair to others who have paid the membership fee, we cannot allow non-members to participate in clubs, classes or other programs that are restricted to our members and supported by those fees.
6. How do I know if my class is going forward?
We will notify all students if a class is canceled. Otherwise, you should assume that the classes you have registered for will be going forward. Please do not call the centers to inquire if a class is meeting. If you have not heard to the contrary, it will be held.
7. Why don’t you offer OLLI classes in the summer months?
We have tried offering summer classes, but have found that our students are either too busy or too wary of the traffic during these months to take advantage of our offerings. Instead, we fulfill the needs of the community better by offering summer camps for children ages 6-10 at both the Myrtle Beach and Litchfield locations. The children keep the staff extremely busy for those eight weeks! We could use the Conway and Georgetown locations for OLLI classes, and we have done so on a limited basis when both instructors and their students have requested this arrangement. Understandably, many students want to continue exercise, language and art classes, or book clubs, and we try to accommodate their desires when the instructors are willing to teach year round.
8. Does the schedule ever change?
Courses are scheduled months in advance. Due to circumstances beyond our control, class dates, instructors, times and locations are sometimes subject to change. OLLI@CCU will make every effort possible to notify you in advance about schedule or instructor changes. Be sure we have your current email address.
9. What qualifications must instructors meet to teach for OLLI@CCU?
We ask that instructors have knowledge of and passion for their topic, that they write a clear and succinct description of their class, and that they abide by the guidelines provided by the University. Since we offer non-credit classes, instructors are not required to have official credentials or attend training (although we are now offering instructor workshops prior to each semester). We do ask that our students take the evaluation process seriously, however, so that we can help our instructors improve if they are not as effective as they should be. If any instructor is creating a classroom environment that is negative, threatening, or in any manner unwelcoming, we need students to report such actions immediately so that we can remedy the situation as soon as possible.
10. Who should I contact if I am interested in teaching for OLLI@CCU?
If you are interested in teaching for OLLI@CCU, you should first become familiar with our programming by perusing our website and looking through our catalog. Then, call or come by the center where you prefer to teach and chat with the staff for initial feedback. Kelli Barker is the director of our Conway location (843-349-5003). Lisa Rickenbrode is the director of our Litchfield and Georgetown locations, and her office is in Litchfield (843-349-2025). Either would be happy to guide you in the course proposal process.
11. Why does OLLI@CCU switch the location of classes occasionally?
We try not to move our classes more than necessary, but we sometimes need to accommodate other departments in the University who need to use our space. Also, we allow many configurations of courses, and while we have tried to standardize start dates and times, our instructors do not always follow our guidelines. Therefore, we may have to switch rooms to provide the appropriate space for a course that is just beginning. We have limited space in our facilities, so we need our instructors and our students to be flexible and to look at the room assignments we post each day.
12. Why don’t you give receipts when students register for classes?
We do, if you ask for one. It is not the same type of receipt you receive in a store, though. It is a course schedule. Credit card records and bank statements serve as your financial receipt.
13. Why do you charge a 2.7 percent service fee when we pay by credit card?
This is a University policy, and as part of the University, we must comply. Credit card companies charge retailers fees. The University could hide these costs as part of tuition or course fees, or we can offer options for payment, and we choose the latter.
14. Why does it take so long to get refunds when we drop a class or a class is canceled?
The Bursar’s Office through student accounts only processes payments on Thursdays, so that’s one delay. The time needed for processing of checks and credit cards differs, and depending on the bank, the refund process may take up to two cycles to show up on the student’s account. We apologize for the inconvenience this process causes our students, but we have no control over this aspect of our operation.
15. How can I get OLLI@CCU newsletters, bulletins and email updates?
Students can either indicate their desire to be on our listserv on the registration form, or they can sign up for the listserv on their own by emailing email@example.com, leaving the subject line blank, and writing “subscribe firstname.lastname@example.org” in the body of the message. Copies of the newsletter and bulletins can also be found on our website, coastal.edu/olli.
16. Do I need a parking decal?
If you attend classes at the Conway center, or if you will be parking at that center when you go on an excursion, you will need a parking decal since that parking lot is patrolled. Parking at the Litchfield center does not require a decal. If you park behind the Georgetown building, you will need a decal, but if you park on the street or in a city lot, you do not. If you want to visit the CCU campus to go to a cultural event, a lecture, the art gallery or the library, go ahead and pick up a decal; it’s one of the benefits of being an OLLI member!
17. Do I need a student ID card?
You do not need a student ID card to attend OLLI classes or go on OLLI excursions. However, why would you not want an ID card that can guarantee discounts with our partners and other institutions and that would allow you to use the CCU library? Again, it’s a benefit of membership, so go for it!
18. Why do we have to sign up so far in advance for OLLI excursions?
The first practical reason is so that you guarantee yourself a seat before the trip is filled. On longer trips, especially, OLLI@CCU must put deposits on transportation, hotel rooms and tours well in advance, so we need exact numbers of committed travelers before we do so.
19. If I choose to drive rather than ride on the van/bus, why do you make me fill out a form?
For each excursion, we must file a Travel Authorization form with the University. When you elect not to travel with us on University transportation, legally, we must record that fact and you must release us from liability if anything were to happen to you on your way to or from the destination. Unfortunately, lawsuits are much too common in our society, and the University legal office does its best to protect students, staff, faculty and the institution by having every department follow their guidelines.
20. Why can’t I get a friend to go in my place if I find at the last minute that I cannot go to a class or on an excursion?
See above. The Travel Authorization form applies to only those students who have registered, and your name is the one that is on the official enrollment document. If someone else were to go in your place, that person would not be covered by the Travel Authorization form. Likewise, if you are registered for an OLLI class, then your name is on the roster and thus you are legally allowed on our property. If someone is not registered, we have no records of that person and would be leaving ourselves vulnerable to legal claims were an accident or other incident to occur.
21. Why don’t you pick up at each location when you go on excursions?
We would love to be able to offer this service, but it would put too much of a burden on the drivers. The vans are stored on the east campus of CCU in Conway. Following the current policy, if the trip is heading north, we will pick up students at the Conway location before heading north; if the trip is heading south, we will pick up students at the Conway location and then drive to Litchfield to pick up students in that location before heading south. If the destination is to our west, we simply drive two blocks to the Science Center, pick up students, and head out.
Let’s use the last excursion of the fall 2017 semester as an example. The director drove from Surfside Beach to Conway to pick up the van, then to the Science Center, then to Columbia to the Governor’s Mansion, back to the Science Center, to the gas station, and then to return the van, and then home. She was gone from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., thus working the equivalent of an 11-hour day (when her regular schedule is 7.5 hours daily). If she had gone to pick up students at Litchfield, that would have required leaving her house at 5:30 a.m., picking up the van in Conway at 6, heading back east to pick up students at 6:45, returning to Conway to pick up the second load at 7:30, driving to Columbia and back, dropping students at Conway at 5 p.m., dropping students at Litchfield at 5:50 p.m., returning the van to Conway after filling the gas tank (6:55 p.m.) and returning to her home at 7:30 p.m. That would amount to a 14-hour day, and I assure you, this director is not up to that task! Neither are our other drivers, who are all “experienced adults”!
22. Why does OLLI need volunteers? How do I volunteer? What do volunteers do?
OLLI usually employs eight full-time staff members to run the centers, and to plan and oversee the Osher Lifelong Learning program, the Coastal Carolina Kids Camps, and any Continuing Education Workshops that have been requested by the community. While most of the needs of the department, and thus of the OLLI, can be met by these paid employees, having volunteers not only increases productivity, but builds a sense of community within our ranks. By volunteering, students get to work closely with other members, forming stronger bonds; they get a sense of pride from their accomplishments; and they get the satisfaction of helping those of us at CCU serve the community. If you feel inclined to contribute your time, talents, and energy to OLLI, please check the box on your registration form or contact a member of the staff to volunteer. We need folks to deliver catalogs, give presentations to community groups, act as concierges in our centers, drive on excursions, assist instructors, lead clubs or teach classes, serve on committees, provide or serve snacks for lectures and special events, write articles, analyze data, and develop marketing strategies. If you have another idea about how you can help, we are always open to suggestions!
23. Do you offer gift certificates?
OLLI@CCU memberships make meaningful gifts for any occasion, including birthdays, retirements, anniversaries and holidays. To purchase a gift, talk to the staff at any of our centers. Gifts are non-refundable and non-transferable.
24. I’d like to request an OLLI presentation for my senior community or club. Who should I contact?
We would love to send staff and volunteers to share the good news about OLLI! Contact one of the center directors (Kelli Barker or Lisa Rickenbrode) or the director of Academic and Community Outreach, Carol Osborne, to schedule the visit. Also, if you can take our catalogs to your club house, or if you can put a notice about OLLI in your community newsletters, we would be very appreciative!