It may not be the new 30, but 50 isn’t over the hill, either.
Shoreline Community College is launching a new program in the Seattle area aimed at ’boomers who don’t see themselves drifting quietly toward retirement or accept a layoff, but are still looking to make some noise.
“The ‘Plus 50’ program provides a great framework to meet the varied goals of the baby-boom generation,” said David Cunningham, Dean of Workforce and Continuing Education. “Many in this generation aren’t looking to slow down, they’re looking for something to do, which may mean acquiring new skills for new interests or new employment.”
The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), which is also providing a grant to help Shoreline start the program. Cunningham recently attended a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., where he helped develop standards and guidelines for the program.
As economic pressures mount, enrollment continues to soar at community colleges with baby boomers seeking to train for new careers, upgrading their skills, or trying to “recession-proof” their resumes.
Plus 50 adults can encounter a range of obstacles when going back to college. They often must navigate a college admissions system designed for high school seniors, not people with 35-year-old transcripts. And they must decide on a path of study that will lead to a new career and re-cultivate study habits left behind decades ago.
According to the AACC, the 78 million baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) have a wealth of experience, skills and leadership and the Plus-50 program can help leverage this enormous capacity. Four out of five people over age 50 say they will work in retirement, and most are planning on retiring later in life than their parents did. Whether they stay in their current positions, add skills for a career change or pursue new opportunities, this group is ready to explore new options and open new doors, according to the AACC.
Colleges across the state and country are participating in the program. Shoreline is partnering with the Community Colleges of Spokane, while Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood is working with the other community colleges in Pierce County, including Bates Technical College, Tacoma Community College, Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom and Pierce College-Puyallup.
Clark College in Vancouver, Wash., is working with Centralia, Lower Columbia, Olympic and South Puget Sound community colleges.
“We’re gearing up now,” said Cunningham, adding that the college hopes to have classes available this fall. “We look forward to offering this innovative program to the community.”