September 3, 2014 smz-blog

Never stop learning – a tale of lifelong education

Today’s blog post comes to us from SMZ alum and Detroit advertising guru, Jim August. Jim spent over fifty years in the ad business, helping create campaigns and marketing plans for some of Michigan’s most iconic brands.

Jim A

SMZ was fortunate to have Jim onboard for over five years before he went on to enjoy the (semi-) retired life. Jim got an early start at SMZ while still in high school in 1952! He came back in 1999 when SMZ merged with Jim’s firm, Stone August, and stayed until 2004. Curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge continue to play an important role in Jim’s time after agency life, and to that end, he’s never stopped exercising his mind. To this day, he still matches wits with people less than half his age. At SMZ, we listen. We think. We do. Jim’s commitment to his lifelong education is inspiring to all, reminding us that it is never too late to listen, and never too late to learn.

A great way for even a partially-retired senior to keep the brain cells charged is to audit classes at area universities. Auditing a class means you get all the learning without any test anxiety or sweating out term papers; you just show up and enjoy. Even doing the reading is up to you. Being a non-matriculating student means you don’t have any regimentation on what to take. Just pick courses that pique your interest. You can establish guidelines like only going two days a week, or taking courses that meet at night.

My idea has been to learn about subjects I’m interested in, with the guidance of an instructor who has figured out how to organize the material and provide added value to the process in the classroom. I’ve taken close to 20 courses at two different universities and have rarely been disappointed or bored.

Being in a classroom of 20 year olds where you’re sharing a learning experience is pretty cool. They’re not always sure what to make of you, but they get that you are on their side in the never-changing battle between professor and student. You’ll find your fellow students dress a lot differently, have strange tattoos and show a lot more skin than we did, but are plenty smart and engaging. They retain the material better than we do, but we have no pressure … just pleasure.

How do you keep your mind and body sharp in your downtime? Tell us in the comments below!

Comments (2)

  1. paul ryder

    Can Jim give us a rundown of where he went to audit the classes, and while your at it, can you let us know which classes/professors he liked the most? Auditing classes sounds like a great idea.

  2. SMZ

    Thanks for your request, Paul.

    Both Oakland University and U-M Dearborn have programs for non-matriculating seniors. Oakland has more courses to choose from just because it’s a lot bigger. I believe U-M has a special office or person that deals with this. Go through the university’s switchboard to find her and she can set you up. At OU, apply to the university for admission with that status … it takes about five minutes fill out the application and 10 days for them to respond. Then you get the numbers and info you need to enter the school’s computer system.

    OU’s program is free. At U-M, the cost is minimal.

    I have taken primarily history and political science-types of courses. All but one professor in the 300 level courses have been good to excellent. My advice is to take what interests you, but be a little wary of 100 or 200 level courses.

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