• The American Association
of Community Colleges
• 370 courses offered by 62
universities from 16 countries
• Other websites include www.open
culture.com, www.udacity.com and
“A” is for “Adult” Grown-ups heading back to school
By Sally Abrahms
ADULTS OF ALL ages are returning to school
to learn new skills so they can snag better
jobs, change careers or simply have the pure
pleasure of acquiring knowledge. The National
Center for Education Statistics reports that 8
million older adults (defined as beyond the
typical 18- to 22-year-old age range) were
enrolled in college in 2010, while the Apollo
Research Institute projects enrollment will
grow 20 percent by 2016. According to the
American Council of Education, more than
50 percent of students are older adults.
“We’ve moved beyond the traditional
view of going to high school, then on to col-
lege and we’re done,” says Linda Morris, pres-
ident of the American Association for Adult
and Continuing Education ( www.aaace.org).
“We have a different framework, which is that
learning is continuous throughout the life
span. And, you have to do that to be com-
petitive in today’s marketplace.”
Whether you’re in or out of the work-
force, being stimulated and mastering some-
thing new has benefits. It can help your brain
stay agile, improve your mental health and
keep you socially engaged. It can also be fun.
Consider the following options.
The Costco Connection
Costco carries school supplies for students
of all ages.
Adding up the opportunities
Community colleges. There are 1,132
community colleges nationwide, which means
they are accessible to people who may have
other demands on their time—working full-
time, taking care of children, etc. Most offer
six-month to two-year certificate and degree
programs in high-demand fields such as
healthcare and education as well as more
typical college fare. Tuition and fees are, on
average, 64 percent lower than at four-year
universities. And, at close to half of public
community colleges, students can earn a
degree completely online.
The American Association of Community
Colleges’ Plus 50 Initiative (http://plus50.aacc.
nche.edu) is geared to students ages 50 and
older at 70 community colleges (and growing).
The Plus 50 Initiative invests in community
colleges to create or expand campus programs
that engage the plus- 50 student population,
with a focus on workforce training and preparing for new careers.
Cynthia Fernandez, 56, of St. Louis, is in
a Plus 50 Initiative program. She lost her job
at a doctor’s office and is getting an IT (
information technology) user help desk certificate
in just four months, preparing her to help
employees with computer problems. “I’m
excited about this new career,” she says. “I’m
learning a lot, and it’s fun.”
Adult and continuing education classes.
You name it, they probably teach it at commu-
nity adult ed centers: astronomy, computers, tap
dancing, poetry, English as a second language.
Courses are offered at night as well as during
the day, one time only or for several weeks.
Freelancer Sally Abrahms specializes in aging,
work, health and education. AUGUST 2013 ;e Costco Connection 43