Students over 50 will be hitting college campuses this year at record rates. What does that mean for colleges and what does that mean for the students themselves?
For colleges, there will need to be resources and plans for these experienced students going back to school for training or their undergraduate degree. Professors and adjuncts will need to be skilled at drawing out their life experiences during class as those students sit next to 18-year-olds have yet to risk, to fail and to experience many of life’s lessons. They will need basic learning skills, though data shows they have the motivation in spades that many 18-year-olds lack.
So, traditional-aged students can greatly gain from having classmates over fifty as long as they extend themselves to these students. If they do engage them–through sitting next to them in class, asking questions, and studying with them in study groups outside of class–they will get a world of knowledge which they need right now, but don’t have first-hand.
By ERIC HOOVER
Baby boomers once redefined youth—and now they are redefining retirement.
Health-care advances and increasing life spans have allowed adults who are 50 and older to stay in the work force longer than their parents did. A tough economy means that many older Americans must continue working out of necessity, if not by choice. And many baby boomers who leave the work force seek opportunities to stay active and engaged in their communities.
Those circumstances will have major implications for community colleges, according to experts here at the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges. On Sunday, Mary Sue Vickers, director of the association’s Plus 50 Initiative, told her colleagues that community colleges must do more to engage older students and prepare them for jobs.
“Society’s ideas about aging have not kept pace with reality or with how baby boomers see themselves,” Ms. Vickers said. Many middle-aged Americans, she noted, may work part time after retiring, while others will continue “cycling in and out of periods of work and leisure.”
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