This generation of aging, it has been said over and over again, are pioneers.
This is no precedent globally for the combination of long lifespans and the need to continue to earn income. The concept of retirement, invented in the 19th century, seems a goner.
In MarketWatch, Laurie Quinn, provost of Champlain College, describes a growing trend among the New Aging. That's to enroll in college for a degree in order to move on to a second career, remain competitive in the career they already have, learn, and position themselves for fresh challenges.
Online education makes matriculating for a college degree more doable. They don't have to disrupt their lives. They can tune in on the lessons when their schedule allows.
A survey by Champlain found that 60% of those 23 to 55 want to return to school. However, the cost, along with fear of taking on student loan debt, is the deterrent. To address that, Champlain has reduced the cost per credit.
In a very different time - the early 1960s - when I was attending a small liberal arts college in rural Pennsylvania, there were about five "non-traditional" aka "old" students among us.
Looking back, I now realize it must have taken guts for them to study among those half or a third their age. And that learning the material might have been more difficult for them. When I enrolled in a free software course at the local library, the Millennial sitting next to me had to reach over from his laptop to help me.
We traditional students were, as expected, self-absorbed and I can't recall any of us reaching out to them and helping them navigate that unusual journey. It never occurred to me to invite any to the on-campus "tea room" (so genteel in those days before the counterculture) for a high-carb snack and to listen to how they were doing.
However, what they did have going for them was that, half a century ago, tuition was peanuts. When I began college in 1963, for two semesters it was $700. In addition, the older students commuted, not bunking in the dorm. That also made the experience more affordable.
Had I a time capsule I would climb in, return to that college campus, and make it my mission to help those, who were the pioneers of their time, recognize that they were representing an emerging breed of superhero.
Yeah, now that I am among the New Aging I am experiencing downright shame for treating the non-typical student as invisible. Currently, of course, they should promote their presence. There are books and documentaries to be made about this phenomenon.
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