Chilliwack ElderCollege registration goes online

Aug. 30 is the big day for registration — ElderCollege has volunteers, a new website, extra phone lines, and more computers ready to go

From left

From left

ElderCollege is moving its registration online.

This year’s tagline, ‘register online, not in line’ sums it all up.

“The last number of years, the only complaint has been the big lineups for registration,” says ElderCollege chair, Marlene Dance.

Ever since it began in Chilliwack in 1999, senior students have been lining up to register for courses like Travel With Me and Tapestry for Thought. They’d line up early on registration day, line up to sign up for each course, then line up one last time to pay for the classes they had registered for.

By moving registration online, ElderCollege will be saving time and money. Previously, it took an average of 80 volunteers on registration day, plus there were facility rental costs.

Now it can all be done from home.

It has been in the works for more than a year. At last year’s AGM, a goal was made to have online registration in place for September of this year.

Goal accomplished.

This Tuesday, Aug. 30 is the big day and, rest assured, they are prepared. They have volunteers, a new website, extra phone lines, and more computers, laptops and iPads ready to go.

“There won’t be a problem with the site crashing as there are 500 ElderCollege members, and the site can handle thousands of visitors,” says Dance. “The only thing that could kill us is a power failure.”

The new ElderCollege website, chilliwackeldercollege.ca, is very user-friendly. It is clean, and easy to navigate. Courses are broken down into five categories: active participation, arts, learn by doing, study and discussion, and technology and photography. In each of these areas, you’ll find the course of your choice.

Additionally, all of the members’ accounts are already online, they just need to be activated by each person. Students are encouraged to activate their accounts prior to Aug. 30 to save time on registration day.

“The fall semester is our biggest registration. If this works in September, it’ll be a breeze in January,” says Dance.

She estimates about 80 per cent of those registering online will be able to do it on their own, while others will need help from friends or family members. People also have the option to register over the phone or in person, but it will take longer as ElderCollege will have limited capacity to help members on registration day.

Their volunteers, known as ‘super users’, will be there to help.

“We’ve created a group of super users who are going to be available, because there will be a small number of our members who will need register over the phone or in person,” says Dance.

But, the in-person and by-phone registration will still be completed online.

“If you call, the operator will register you online anyway. If you come in person, they will register you online. There’s no other way to do it,” says Dance.

ElderCollege is open to anyone over the age of 50. Classes include topics like cooking, music, writing, hiking, computers, and more. Each course ranges in price from $30-60, plus there’s the annual membership fee of $12. Course payment options include credit card, Visa debit, and eCheck. Cash and cheque will be accepted for in-person registration.

ElderCollege is based almost entirely on volunteers. The instructors are all volunteers, there are volunteers who run the office, and volunteers who help out on registration day. The school has a partnership with UFV where the majority of the classes are held, and until recently, ElderCollege’s website was run through ufv.ca.

“This community is so great for volunteering,” says Dance. “It’s all done for the love of education and believing in this concept of ElderCollege.”

Online registration for Chilliwack ElderCollege begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30 at chilliwackeldercollege.ca. Phone lines (604-702-2611) open at the same time. The office is located at UFV, 45190 Caen Ave. in room A1367.

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