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About the Author

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Mike Bonacorsi

Mike Bonacorsi is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, public speaker and award-winning author of Retirement Readiness: A Guide to Creating Your Vision, Knowing Your Position, and Preparing for Your Future. You can listen to his radio show, The Mike Bonacorsi Show, at WSMN, 1590AM or on your computer at http://wsmnradio.com on Tuesdays from noon – 1:00 PM. For additional information, visit http://mikebonacorsi.com 2009© Mike Bonacorsi CFP® All Rights Reserved.

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Best Boomer Towns Columns

Education - It is for Everyone

A couple of weeks ago Ellen Griffin, Dean of Continuing Education at Southern New Hampshire University, was a guest on my radio show. The discussion was the increase in baby boomers returning to the classroom, the reasons and the opportunities.

Many are returning to school to increase opportunities in their profession, graduate program enrollees have increased as well as certificate programs. Another group returning to school are those preparing for a career change; layoffs, and weak economies tend to send people back to school to retool themselves. People are expecting to stay in the workforce longer, whether it is at their current job or a new career. Ongoing education within your industry allows you to strengthen your position, increase your value and remain competitive.

The availability of learning formats are also contributing to the rise in boomer enrollment. Satellite campuses, workplace classrooms and online courses make it easier to participate and complete study programs. It is possible to complete a degree program online without leaving your house or setting foot in a classroom.

Boomers who attend a live classroom bring something to the table their younger classmate's lack, real life experience with the subject matter. This can be a plus to someone learning the theoretical workings of an issue, to have the opportunity to hear firsthand the actual application of the theory.

One area in particular that has attracted the attention of baby boomers is community service. This generation has a "give back" attitude and they are interested in bringing their management and leadership skills to the non-profit area.

A Boston Globe article on September 13, 2009 referred to the fact that people are expecting to stay in the workforce longer and fifty year olds consider themselves mid-career. The number of Americans over 65 is expected to grow to 20% of the population by 2030 and to continue to increase meanwhile the younger generations will grow at a slower pace. This will open up opportunities for older workers to continue to stay in the workforce.

According to Ellen, not all boomers are returning to school with career advancement in mind, many are taking the time to pursue lifelong passions. The Culinary program, for those looking to become the next Emeril or Julia, has seen an increase in enrollment. The Fine Arts department especially the areas of fiction and non-fiction writing, is another program that has attracted a number of students. Language classes are popular, certificate courses and audited courses attract those looking for the education without pursuing a degree.

Those concerned about entering a classroom after many years can relax, many schools have counselors who can help you with course selection and scheduling. Boomer students should also be aware they may qualify for student aid to help pay for courses also, check with your employer to see if reimbursement is available.

The key, according to Ellen, is to start slowly, limit yourself to one or two classes the first semester. Once you get a feel for the time requirements and your comfort with the workload you can add classes as you feel able.

 

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