Tips for Unretirement & Baby Boomers Going Back to School

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By Jennifer Wegerer

Baby boomers have embarked on setting yet another trend—unretirement. Eight out of 10 baby boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—say that they plan to work at least part time after they reach official retirement age, according to the AARP. Only 16 percent of those polled state that they would not work at all.

What unretirement for baby boomers paths are most popular? Continuing education and online learning. Here's why.

Key to Life Transformations

Through online degree programs, boomers are pursuing professional certifications to enhance their existing skills, fulfilling a lifelong dream of completing a bachelor's degree they started 30 years ago and preparing to transition to a second career with a master's degree in hand.

As John, a former accountant, relates, "Once I hit 40, I decided a major job change was in order. I am now taking classes toward a master's degree in education online. I am really enjoying the experience even though it has proven to be quite a challenge."

Along with education, popular fields for adult students include health care, computers and software as well as law and liberal arts studies. Many boomers choose online degree programs for their convenience and flexibility.

Online Learning Tips

For adult students re-entering college after years away, the following tips can help ease the transition back into school:

  • See Value in Your Experience: Adults who have worked their way up in a company, raised children and paid a mortgage bring considerable knowledge and abilities to the table. Not to mention, their experiences provide context for learning—they will likely see how to apply new concepts and skills at work or elsewhere more quickly than students of traditional college age.
     
  • Embrace (or Accept) Technology: Colleges typically offer orientation classes for the online computer systems they use, along with workshops in basic computer skills. Taking advantage of these resources can positively impact an adult student's performance and confidence level.
     
  • Pursue Financial Aid Opportunities: Schools offer grants, loans and work-study programs for which you may qualify. Some employers also provide full or partial tuition reimbursement.
     
  • Research Adult Student Support Services: Many schools have established a support program that includes admission counselors, advisers and financial aid counselors specially trained to assist and ease the transition for non-traditional students.
     
  • Establish Good Study Habits: From setting aside a place dedicated to schoolwork to planning homework projects and preparing for tests, maintaining good study habits can turn academic challenges into personal triumphs.