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Civic and Community Engagement » Education

Why It's Important

Learning is a continuous lifelong process that plays a role in keeping mentally active, learning new job skills, and promoting personal development. Older adults have many options for engaging in lifelong learning and continuing education courses. Education and life-long learning opportunities allow older adults to remain connected through programs including Elderhostel’s, college’s courses or participation in activities offered at public libraries.

How Richmond Is Doing

  • Education at all levels is a top tier issue of importance among volunteers, with three in four volunteers saying it is “very important” to them (ODP CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, 2009)

Education is a Top Tier Issue for Community Members
(ODP CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, 2009)

Three in five (59%) say their community performs well in offering quality education at all levels, with one in five (22%) saying it "performs very well." (ODP RESIDENT 2008)

Three in Five say their community performs well in offering quality education
(ODP RESIDENT, 2008)

How Virginia Is Doing

  • Education at all levels is a top tier issue of importance among residents with two in three saying it is “very important” to them (ODP RESIDENT 2008)

Education is a Top Tier Issue for Community Members (ODP Resident 2008) Richmond MSA

 

According to the American Community Survey, baby boomers are more educated than previous generations.

Education in Virginia

(AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY, 2007)

How the U.S. Is Doing

  • Currently, older adults are more likely to be served by community colleges than are students under the age of 25. While only 33 percent of students under the age of 25 attend community colleges, half of the college-going adults aged 50 and older do so. (ACE METLIFE MAPPING NEW DIRECTIONS 2008)
  • Focus groups of older adults described three primary motivators for pursuing lifelong learning: learning to learn, learning to connect, and learning to work. Although each of these motivators can stand alone, focus group comments revealed that the drive to learn for older adults is not singular, linear or even sequential. (ACE METLIFE MAPPING NEW DIRECTIONS 2008)
  • In a national survey of higher education institutions across sectors, respondents reported that the top five programs enrolling older adult students were fine arts/humanities, business management and entrepreneurship, human services and counseling, teacher education, and health services. (ACE METLIFE MAPPING NEW DIRECTIONS 2008)

A recent report from ACE & MetLife called, Mapping New Directions, Older Adults in Higher Education, reveals top line data on older adults and education:

  • Where older adults learn: Currently, older adults are more likely to be served by community colleges than are students under the age of 25. While only 33 percent of students under the age of 25 attend community colleges, half of the college-going adults aged 50 and older do so.
  • What drives their learning: Focus groups of older adults described three primary motivators for pursuing lifelong learning: learning to learn, learning to connect, and learning to work. Although each of these motivators can stand alone, focus group comments revealed that the drive to learn for older adults is not singular, linear or even sequential.
  • What they learn: In a national survey of higher education institutions across sectors, respondents reported that the top five programs enrolling older adult students were fine arts/humanities, business management and entrepreneurship, human services and counseling, teacher education, and health services.
  • What they want to be called: Language plays a significant role in the effectiveness of outreach messages. Most focus group participants said that programs targeted specifically toward seniors or older adults wouldn’t catch their attention because they didn’t identify themselves as part of that population. Terms such as third age and lifelong learning are appealing to older adults across age cohorts because they imply a continuum of learning.
  • How higher education identifies them: The nationwide survey results indicated that older adults are not consistently identified by colleges and universities, if at all. More than 40 percent of responding institutions reported that they did not identify older adult students for purposes related to outreach, programs and services, or financial aid.
  • How higher education serves them: Institutions identified a range of programs and services available to this age group -- such as computer training (67 %); career transition (48 %); ESL (39 %); and GED ®/Basic Skills (36 %). Yet 42 percent of respondents also estimated that less than 10 percent of their older adult students make use of such services.
  • Who they want for classmates: Focus group members said that they preferred intergenerational learning to age-segregated education. The prevailing attitude among these adults was that both older and younger students can learn from one another; they had no desire to be sequestered in an “educational nursing home.”
  • How they pay for higher education: Older adults are often unaware of financial assistance for the education of older adults, due in large part to lack of promotion by the institutions. For example, of those institutions offering tuition waivers for older adults, most reported 50 or fewer students taking advantage of the waivers as of 2006.

(ACE METLIFE, MAPPING NEW DIRECTIONS, 2008)

The 2008 MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Encore Career Survey is the first national study to reveal that the encore career is more than an appealing idea. It’s a livelihood and a lifestyle for an unexpectedly large group of people who, without abundant pathways or much help from policy makers, have found a way to do work that matters in the second half of life, work that they want to do and that society needs doing. This research revealed:

  • The encore career is a reality for millions of Americans who, as it turns out, are doing the work that needs to be done (somewhere between 6 and 9.5 percent of those 44 to 70 years old).

  • People in encore careers have much in common. Most of those in encore careers come from professional and white-collar jobs (88%), have at least a college education (67%), and tend to live in cities and their surrounding suburbs (72%). Most (60%) are leading edge boomers between the ages of 51 and 62. Most (56%) are women.

  • The encore career workforce could become much larger very quickly. Of those between 44 and 70 not already in encore careers, half say they are interested.

  • Those in encore careers are having a good experience. More than eight in ten of those in encore careers (84%) say they get either a “tremendous amount” of satisfaction (38%) or “quite a bit” of satisfaction (46%) from their encore careers.

  • Commitment is compatible with flexibility. Some nonprofit employers expressed concern that older employees might not be committed, but most people (59%) currently in encore careers are working 40 hours a week or more. Their experience certainly shows that there’s no contradiction between the desire for flexibility and the ability to commit.

(METLIFE, CIVIC VENTURES, 2008)

Data & Information Sources

ACE & MetLife, Mapping New Directions, Older Adults in Higher Education, 2008

http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/CLLL/Reinvesting/MapDirections.pdf

American Community Survey, 2007

http://www.census.gov/acs/www/

Corporation for National & Community Service

http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/

Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics

http://www.agingstats.gov/agingstatsdotnet/main_site/default.aspx

MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures, Encore Career Survey, 2008

http://www.civicventures.org/publications/surveys/encore_career_survey/Encore_Survey.pdf

ODP, Residents’ Study & Business Leaders’ Study

http://www.olderdominion.org/documents/ODP_Exec_Sum_03_26-08.pdf

U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

http://www.census.gov/acs/www/