My Godmother Helen used to tell me that an education is the one thing that you have that no one can ever take away from you. Helen was an extraordinary woman who worked her way through college in the 1920s when most women did not even think about attending college and eventually earned two masters degrees and became a high school principal. She continued learning until the day she died because it brought her joy and “keeps my mind from getting cobwebby”!
Baby Boomers have an extraordinary opportunity to keep learning at their local community college. The American Association of Community Colleges is teaming up with Atlantic Philanthropies, the Lumina Foundation, and other educational and non-profit organizations to challenge Community Colleges all over the United States to develop innovative programs of learning to help train and retrain individuals age fifty and better so that they can either return to the workforce, start a business, or just learn a new skill.
Initial seed funding for the program was provided by the Atlantic Philanthropies, but response was so positive the program was expanded and now is looking to expand to community colleges throughout the fifty states. The initial program began in 2008 but the expansion reflected the changing economic circumstances for many older workers who thought they were poised for retirement but now find they must remain on the job. The expansion initiatives are more targeted focusing more specifically on training, retraining and career development.
The expansion also paired existing schools and more experienced programs as learning partners with the new community colleges who were coming on board as Plus 50 colleges as affiliates of the Plus 50 initiative.
When you think about it, community colleges are the perfect place for Baby Boomers to train for the next phase of their lives. We prepare for adulthood by getting educated through elementary school, high school, then college. Then we go off and develop our career, have a family (or not) and live our lives until retirement (or not). So why not get educated for whatever we decide we want to do with this next phase?
If we need to work, then we can get new skills or refresh old ones at the community college. If we want to learn to paint or write poetry, we can do that, too, at the community college. We can even take Tae Kwon Do, if we’re feeling particularly spry. The teachers are normally very good and the facilities are usually top-notch, yet the prices are extremely reasonable. The schools are right in the community and there are class times to fit most any schedule. There’s always a mix of students from all ages, backgrounds, and reasons for attending which I think makes it even more fun.
You don’t really need a reason, but if you have one, more’s the better. Go ahead, you might learn something!
To learn more about Plus 50 Encore visit Plus 50