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Boomers heading back to community colleges

 
USA Today
 
Paul Klingler likes his job as a mold-maker for a Rochester plastics manufacturer.

But the 54-year-old Parma resident also liked his last mold-making job, which he held for four years before being laid off early this year. And when he didn't get a call back regarding an open position at another company earlier this year, Klingler chalked it up to his lack of a college degree. "I know I have all the other skills they're looking for," he says.
That's why Klingler is working with Monroe Community College here to figure out what coursework he needs to earn an associate's degree in its machine trades apprentice training program. He plans to start this spring.

"This is getting to keep me level with the playing field if I find myself out there looking again," Klingler says.

An increasing number of people ages 50 and up are headed to community college — 388,000 were enrolled nationwide in fall 2009, the most recent data available from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). That was up 6% from 2007 and more than 12% from 2005. Nationwide, people over the age of 50 typically make up between 5%-6% of community college enrollment, according to AACC figures.

At the same time, a growing number of community colleges nationwide are taking special steps to attract and accommodate those students. The Washington-based AACC created the Plus 50 Initiative in 2008 with 13 schools aiming to provide enrichment programs of interest to older students.
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