June, a month of flowers and sunshine, is also a month of graduations across the nation. Maybe you know someone who celebrated that happy day. Maybe that someone was you! More and more, older generations are returning to school to brush up on skills, get a first degree, or pursue dream professions. A recent article at NBCnews.com claims students over 35 years of age are expected to comprise 19% of all college enrollment in 2020. You're over 35 aren't you? Wondering if it's right for you? Read on.
Are you considering a return to school? Community colleges are beginning to offer "Plus 50" programs that are accelerated and specific so older students can learn a new trade without spending years gaining that knowledge. Maybe you have life or business experience or prior college credit that you'd like to apply toward degree completion. The Learning Counts initiative can facilitate the conversion of "prior learning" to help you achieve a college degree faster. Do you wonder if you can handle the college environment? Check out "What its like to be a Middle Aged student" at the Atlantic.com Are you unsure about a return to school? Listen to the inspiration of twitter users at USNEWS or better yet...chime in! Today there are several ways to explore your interest without making a full commitment. Some colleges offer extension courses, geared toward life long learners, that don't test or give grades such as UCLA's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. In addition, many community colleges and some four year colleges allow "seniors" to sit in on classes that aren't full. Call colleges in your area and inquire about that non credit option. It's a good way to feel out your compatibility with college learning and its fun!
We're gracefully aging in America and we're still hungry for new learning and experience. Isn't it wonderful to see educational institutions recognizing the enormous potential and intellectual capacity of our later lives? Lifelong learning was just a catch phrase years ago. Today, it's part of mainstream thinking resulting in graduation celebrations at every stage of life. Increasingly, June graduates experience this rite of passage at the end of formal parenting or a long professional career. Their graduation signals a departure into a new and equally rich life ahead. Talk to a new graduate and you'll be touched by the thrill and satisfaction of their achievement. Travel that road yourself and you'll find a wealth of ideas and a world of discovery.
Update July 2014: This short story profiles an 89 year old Japanese American whose education was interrupted during the period of internment. Now, 72 years later, he has a moving graduation ceremony. No matter if it's high school or college graduations bring a unique sense of achievement and pride.