Colleges used to have an influx of empty nesters who returned to college to fill their days when their own children went off to college. That’s one reason why older students return to college. With a shaky economy on our hands, many more reasons have popped up. Here are a few of them:
1. Unfortunately, many people have lost their jobs recently. While looking for work, many of these older people are honing their skills in an attempt to become more marketable and to ensure their skills are up-to-date so they can compete with other applicants.
2. Some older people have returned to college in search of a new career. In these cases, these students may have retired from their first career. Many retired military, for example, retire around the age of 40 and go to school in search of new direction. Others return to school because they are dissatisfied with their first career.
3. Other students are in college because they didn’t finish their degrees the first time around. Maybe they completed a year or two, but didn’t have the time or the money to go all the way to earning a degree. Instead, they went out into the work world prematurely and now either desire the satisfaction of finishing or they now need the degree to retain their job.
4. Self-fulfillment and personal growth are related reasons for returning to school at an older age. Returning to college in these cases may not have anything to do with job or career. Rather, these people are taking classes for personal growth or for the love of the topics of the classes. Some may continue with one class after another throughout their lives.
5. Another reason to pursue education later in life is to add a second career to the first in order to make enough money to make ends meet.
6. The current retirees are redefining retirement. It used to be that people worked as hard as they could until 65 then found a warm spot to settle down, play golf or read books. Today’s group of retirees is much more active and has chosen to continue to pursue education and take on part-time work to keep the coffers filled and to keep their lives full of interest and creativity.
Whatever the reasons, the return to college for older students is in vogue and is helping them plan career options and pursue activities later in life. And, it is helping schools through increasing the enrollment.