Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Boomers Are Headed Back to College

Baby Boomers have a lot of energy and most of us are definitely not ready for the rocking chair, regardless of our age.  Whether we are still working or have already retired, large numbers of Boomers are taking advantage of their local colleges.

Their educational pursuits may be geared towards getting a degree or completing a certificate program in order to help them start a new career.  The vast majority of Baby Boomers, however, are taking classes for fun and their own personal enrichment.  Often, these enrichment classes cost the students little or nothing.

Degree and Certificate Programs for Older Americans

When my husband and I took our grandkids to a local community college for their science career night, I noticed that although most of the students were in their late teens and early twenties, there were also a surprisingly large number of older adults who had gone back to school to become dental hygienists, x-ray technicians, medical assistants or to pursue similar careers.

I have also known Baby Boomers who decided to go back to school to get advanced degrees in their current field or to get the necessary training to start a brand new career.  For example, we have had friends who enrolled in programs to become chefs, computer technicians, and tax consultants, often as second career choices.

If you are a Baby Boomer who has not retired yet, and you are looking to start a new career or you are hoping to advance in your current job, going back to college is a smart first step towards reaching your goals.

When you enroll in one of these career programs, you should expect to pay tuition and you will have additional expenses for books and materials.  For those of you who are doing this to improve your job skills, your current employer may help cover the cost.  If you are going back to school in order to change careers, you should be eligible for a student loan through Sallie Mae that will help you cover all or most of the costs.

College Emeritus Enrichment Programs for Fun!

A large number of Baby Boomers are also signing up for free or low-cost Emeritus programs through the colleges in their communities.  Many institutions of higher learning ... from community colleges to private universities ... offer local senior citizens the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of educational experiences.  Often these classes are offered free or for a very low fee.  The choices available may include sitting in on lectures, auditing classes, or participating in programs that have been specifically designed for senior citizens.

For example, the University of California at Irvine sponsors an inexpensive monthly lunchtime lecture series in their University Club, and this program is open to the general public for a small annual fee.  For a very small additional charge you can also enjoy the hot lunch buffet.  The lectures are given by college professors or by local citizens who have had interesting life experiences that they want to share.  When I lived near UCI, I joined this group and enjoyed a wide variety of fascinating lectures on every topic you can imagine ... California art, life in an Afghan cave, horses, historical events, etc.

Now that I am retired, I take free yoga and circuit training classes from Saddleback, a local community college.  The classes I take are taught by Saddleback instructors, but are offered in my neighborhood. However, these classes represent only a fraction of those that are available.  In fact, they have free classes throughout central Orange County in a number of different communities, including Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Laguna Woods and Irvine.  The courses are offered in community centers, senior centers, churches and retirement communities. 

The subjects offered include: investing in stocks, art history and appreciation, ceramics, enameling and stained glass, jewelry making, painting and drawing, sculpture, natural history, bird watching, creative writing, sewing, health, a variety of physical education exercise classes, history, music appreciation, philosophy, photography, current events, Spanish, lipreading, theatre and much more.

The Saddleback Emeritus program is reputed to be one of the best in the United States.  However, wherever you live in the U.S. it is likely that your local community college or four-year university will offer at least some of the same free and low-cost non-credit course offerings for older residents of the area.  Check out their websites or call the colleges in your area to see what they offer.  If you live in Orange County, California, you can check out the local class offerings at www.saddleback.edu/emeritus.

Although the classroom instruction is free for all the Emeritus classes mentioned above, students are expected to purchase their own supplies and equipment such as paints, canvasses, yoga mats, Pilates rings, cameras, books, etc.

Advantages of Going Back to College

Whether you are going back to school in order to improve your job opportunities or to enhance your health and enjoyment of life, remember that you are never too old to become a student.  People have been known to continue to take college classes well into their 90's.

Those of you who choose to take a free or low-cost Emeritus class will discover that these programs are a great way to meet new people with common interests, stay physically fit, and keep your mind functioning at its best.

In addition, it is healthy for everyone to pursue their own interests after they retire.  Taking a few classes will prevent you from becoming too bored, too much of a recluse, or from driving your spouse crazy trying to entertain you! 

If you are retired or making your retirement plans, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles on topics that include where to retire in the US, where to retire overseas, medical issues that affect Baby Boomers, family relationshipss and financial planning.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit: wikipedia.org/commons

1 comment:

  1. This is a great article. And so enlightening for me. I've taken classes through the Saddleback Emeritus program and had no idea it was in such high esteem! I just thought of it as my a little class in my local community. Every class I've taken was a positive experience. Thanks for the insight!

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