One explanation for the trend of older students returning to college could be that they are the target of aggressive marketing techniques. Every week, a brochure arrives in the mail, listing the offerings and the promise of a great future. Daily, there are radio spots and billboards shouting how crucial it is for you to return to school. The underlying messages are “You’ll be left behind if you don’t start now”, “You’re worth it!” and “You can do it too!” This type of marketing can create a win-win situation. The schools win if you commit to a program and you win by improving yourself. Many people, on their own, may procrastinate forever and some wouldn’t even consider it because of a negative perception.
In a global economy, all of us, young or old, need to continue our education and training well beyond high school in order to preserve job security and/or flexibility for a new direction.
Even in tough economic times, many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs. It is one way of encouraging their workforce to excel. Ultimately, the company reaps rewards too, in the form of increased productivity and enhanced intellectual capital.
Ironically, high unemployment could be a factor in the rise in older students in the classroom. Part of the unemployment benefits package, in some states, can include financial aid for education. If the education is successful for the recipient, everybody wins. The unemployed worker becomes gainfully employed and the government has gained another taxpayer.
Companies that are downsizing or selling out to another organization can offer training and education as part of a severance package for loyal employees.
Another possible explanation that mature adults find education appealing and achievable is the variety of ways that classes are offered:
*Online classes offer the most convenience – no travel, the flexibility to maintain family life, usually intense learning on a daily basis, though for a shorter term such as six weeks.
*Blended classes – rather than 100% online or 100% in the classroom, in these classes, much of the work is done online, yet the class meets at several intervals during the term, in person.
*Classes that meet once weekly for ten weeks rather than twice weekly for sixteen.
*One year certificates
*Two year Associates
*Longer time to complete a program – there are boundaries, yet longer than average
Finally, it is much easier now, for anyone going to school, to complete assignments with today’s advanced technology. Years ago, writing and rewriting took hours. Frequent trips to the library and taking notes, from huge volumes that couldn’t be checked out, was tedious. Today, you can take your laptop on a cruise and complete your assignments online. Creating PowerPoint presentations are quick and easy once you learn the program. Today is the best time to go back to school and succeed!