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College Leaders Learn Newest Strategies To Reach Baby Boomers

Helping Mature Students Amid Economic Crisis a Focus of National Meeting

 
 
Plus 50 Initiative Logo
Plus 50 Initiative Logo
PRLog - Apr. 28, 2010 - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, D.C. -- Seattle, Wash. – Today’s community colleges face an influx of baby boomers seeking job training amid the aftershocks of the economic recession, but community college leaders don’t have to scramble to understand how to help this non-traditional student population.

The Plus 50 Initiative, a grant-funded demonstration effort operated through the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), is offering tools to help colleges meet the needs of students age 50 and up. Four colleges involved with the initiative recently offered three workshops at the 90th annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in Seattle, Wash., to help college leaders meet this growing need.  

“Community colleges are on the forefront of efforts to help mature workers in today’s stressed economy and they are actively seeking advice on how to reach baby boomers and meet this student population’s needs,” said Mary Sue Vickers, director of the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC.  

She noted that plus 50 adults often have different needs from traditionally-aged college students. It may be difficult to locate transcripts from 35 years ago or navigate a registration system designed for 19-yer-olds that grew up living and breathing the Internet age. Community colleges can take strategic and cost-effective steps to help baby boomers and alleviate some of the stress incurred with going back to school after a job layoff and decades away.

In a presentation titled, “Plus 50 Initiative: What Have We Learned so Far?” Vickers and Brandon Rogers of Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Wash. discussed standards of excellence or success factors that can serve as a foundation for programs that successfully serve baby boomers.  

Vickers and Rogers advised colleges to: (1) tailor programs to meet the needs, interests and objectives of plus 50 students, (2) provide faculty and staff with professional development to help them teach courses and provide services effectively for plus 50 students, (3) market courses without the “senior” label, (4) publicize success stories of plus 50 students (5) set up an advisory committee that includes community partners and aging experts and (6) build an internal campus constituency to ensure program sustainability.

Presentations at the convention also featured two colleges in north central Florida, Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., and Central Florida Community College in Ocala, Fla.

Staff members from Santa Fe College discussed in “Strategies and Partnerships for Working with Plus 50 Students” how to recruit plus 50 students for enrichment and career training opportunities. Presenters included Paul Hutchins, dean; Sheila Lucas, director of health science advising and Betsy Albury, coordinator of community education.

“Developing Sustainable Services for Plus 50’s,” examined the Pathways Program at Central Florida Community College. With 1,500 baby boomers enrolled in college courses and 1,100 volunteers, presenter Jerone Gamble described for attendees how the college sustains its expanding program for plus 50 adults. He also discussed program strategies, structure, and steps taken to develop non-credit workforce education and lifelong learning classes in a cost-effective manner.

The Plus 50 Initiative is a three-year initiative sponsored by the AACC with a $3.2 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies. More information and resources to help community colleges implement plus 50 programming is available at http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu/.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is the leading advocacy organization representing close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling 11.8 million credit and non-credit students each year. To learn more about the AACC, visit http://www.aacc.nche.edu.

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Source:American Association of Community Colleges
Zip:20036
City/Town:District of Columbia - District of Columbia - United States
Industry:Education, Business, Non-profit
Tags:community college, higher education, baby boomer, plus 50, back to school
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