My grandfather worked for the same company for over 30 years. After five years, he was promoted to a supervisor. His skill set plateaued for the remainder of his career. It wasn’t until after he retired that they implemented computers into the company. Ironically, it wasn’t until after then that he and my grandmother purchased their first computer and enrolled in class to learn to use it.
My father has had many jobs from helicopter pilot to security guard to government employee. With each change, there was some level of educational requirement. He admitted that heading back to school was not easy, especially when he was often the only older student in the class and the education was limited to night classes at the community college.
A 2011 article from The Atlantic describes the changes taking place in the higher education demographics. Citing statistics from The National Center for Education Statistics, the findings revealed that, at the time, there were 17.6 million undergrads enrolled in higher education (in the US). Based on that number:
- 15% were enrolled in four-year programs
- 43% were enrolled in two-year programs
- 37% were enrolled part time
- 32% worked full time
- 38% are over the age of 25
The changing landscape in the workforce, technology and the economy set the stage for education requirements. Changes in these factors create new trends in adult education. One key change is the increase in certificate or diploma programs. Programs that are shorter and accommodate busy schedules of the adult student.
Attending school at an older age can be difficult with time restraints, family and career responsibilities. Education facilities that are trending towards making learning more accessible to the adult student are spearheading the change in the education as we know it.