The influx of baby boomers seeking job training amid the aftershocks of the economic recession has challenged some college leaders on how to help this non-traditional student population. However, help is available from colleges with already established programs for working with older, non-traditional students.
Santa Fe recently presented “Strategies and Partnerships for Working with Plus 50 Students” at the 90th annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in Seattle, Wash.
Presenters Paul Hutchins, Dean for Educational Centers, Shelia Lucas, Director, Health Sciences Advsing, and Betsy Albury, Coordinator, Community Education, spoke about recruiting plus 50 students for enrichment and career training opportunities. This follows a successful campus career fair for baby boomers that distributed information on training for new careers.
“The work happening in Gainesville at Santa Fe College as part of AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative is a vital incubator for community colleges around the country faced with an increasingly diverse student population,” said Mary Sue Vickers, Director of the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC. “It’s thrilling to see the college’s innovative work with this student population shared with colleges around the country.”
Santa Fe is a founding college within the Plus 50 Initiative, a grant-funded demonstration effort, operated through AACC, offering tools to help colleges meet the needs of students age 50 and up.
“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 Vickers.
She noted that plus 50 adults often have different needs from traditional college students. It may be difficult to locate transcripts from 35 years ago or navigate a registration system designed for 19 yearolds who grew up living and breathing on the Internet. Community colleges can take strategic and cost-effective steps to help baby boomers going back to school after a job layoff and decades away from campus.
Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Wash., and Central Florida Community College in Ocala were two additional Plus 50 Initiative community colleges at the convention.
The Plus 50 Initiative is a three-year initiative sponsored by the AACC with a $3.2 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies.