Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Senior Education: The Return of the Baby Boomers to the Classroom

     Babyboomers, the group of older adults born between 1946 and 1964 are returning to school in record numbers. The reasons for babyboomers returning to the classroom are many. Some go back to school during retirement to fulfill dreams that were put on hold due to marriage, child-rearing, and work. Others flock back to the classroom because they need to gain new skills that will help them remain gainfully employed in a competitive, and global work force. There are also those who participate in educational activities for the purpose of socializing with persons of similar interests. Others want to become better at hobbies. These babyboomers might be enrolled in courses like watercolor painting, photography, music or culinary arts.

      A babyboomer who is interested in returning to school can find a learning environment suitable to his or her personal interests and learning needs. Community colleges offer degree and certificate programs; short courses for those needing to upgrade job skills, and personal interest courses like cake decorating, basketweaving, and pottery making. Four year colleges and universities offer many formal learning opportunities that include bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees, along with specialized certificate programs.

     Adults in the babyboomer demographic who decide to return to school may find many financial resources to help them cover expenses like tuition, fees and books. The best place to start is to contact the school's financial aid office. This is the place to find out if there are grants, loans, scholarships and other resources that make it easier to return to part-time or full-time. In some states babyboomers age 60 and above are permitted to take courses free at state universities.

      Babyboomers can expect to face some challenges, when entering college after being away from the classroom for several years. Some boomers may not be as technologically savvy as their younger counterparts, so they may be intimated or a little hestitant to take certain courses. However, most schools have special seminars or short courses to help older acquaint older students with new learning technologies.

     When considering returning to college to train for new careers, there are some fields of study that can lead to lucrative, and secure employment for babyboomers. Healthcare jobs like nursing, physical therapy and occupational therapy have always offered well-paying employment opportunities.

     The baby boomer who aspires to return to school to obtain a degree, or job skills training should contact the school's continuing education division. The aspiring student will learn what is available and can take placement tests if needed to determine at what career or subject matter area would be the best fit.

     When she's not organizing parties, Louise Baker writes about online colleges at Zen College Life. She recently looked at where to get the best criminal justice degree.


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