‘Plus 50’ Completion Strategy Aims To Help Baby Boomers Attain College Degrees and Certificates

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by Lauren Porter

The Plus 50 Initiative, a project of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), is to benchmark and expand innovative programs at community colleges that will engage and encourage the plus 50 adult learner. Because of this, the AACC, in pursuit of the Plus 50 Completion Strategy,  has partnered with the Lumina Foundation to bring additional support to the project

 “When minds expand, options do, too. Learning is one of the best ways to stay and feel young, and community colleges are increasingly providing more support and services tailored to meet the needs of older students who want to come back to school,” said Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the AACC, in a statement.  

The goal, under the direction of the AACC, is for adults to complete credentials and receive degrees that will help them get hired in the current workforce. President Barack Obama, along with other leading foundations, have identified community colleges as playing a pivotal role in producing a greater percentage of citizens with higher education.

Thirteen community colleges across the nation will help support the adults as they expand both their minds and options by providing a program aimed to help them attain degrees.

Some colleges, including Cape Cod Community College, hosted a “career changers” conference to highlight the changing “employment forecast” for the region. Some of the topics included “generational differences in the workplace” and “what it’s like to be an older student on a college campus,” said Rosemary Dillon, dean of health sciences.

With the initiative of the AACC and the Plus 50 Completion Strategy, hopes are high for plus 50 adults attaining quality employment with a degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that people who have a postsecondary education credential will fill 30 percent of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations. The program is slated to produce more than 50 percent of students who have earned higher learning degrees by 2020.

“Coming back to college can help you upgrade your skills and make you more competitive in the job market,” Bumphus said.

The colleges participating in the education effort of the Baby Boomers include Clover Part Technical College (Lakewood, Wash.); Joliet Junior College (Joliet, Ill.); Luzerne County Community College (Nanticoke, Pa.); Richland College, part of the Dallas County Community College District (Texas); Santa Fe College (Gainesville, Fla.); St. Louis Community College (St. Louis); Wake Technical Community College (Raleigh, N.C.); and Western Dakota Technical Institute (Rapid City, S.D.). Five mentor colleges that are in line to receive grants are Cape Cod Community College (West Barnstable, Mass.); College of Central Florida (Ocala, Fla.); Century College (White Bear Lake, Minn.); Clark College (Vancouver, Wash.); and Community Colleges of Spokane (Wash.).

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