Colleges nation wide have been reporting strong surges in enrollment largely due
to baby boomers returning to school. Baby boomers are Americans born between 1946
and 1964. Soldiers returning from WWII caused a rise in the birth rate of the United
States, creating a "boom" which is where the term "baby boom" comes from. There were
approximately 76 million baby boomers born during that 18 year span. The baby boomer
generation is now creating a "boom" in the field of adult education.
Enrollment in college programs by baby boomers has risen substantially. In 2001
the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that more than 20 percent
of United States college students are above the age of 30. (qtd. in CNN 1). The National
Center for Education Statistics also reported that enrollment of students aged 40 and
older has increased by 48 percent from the early 1970's. (1). The baby boomer
generation has become the driving force behind the growth of adult education.
The benefits of higher education for the boomers have been greater than that
of their parents. Baby boomer parents are from the Great Depression generation. These
Great Depression era parents were immigrants who believed that hard work was the way
to succeed in life. Upon arriving in America, the immigrants needed skills to help them
live in their new homeland. They learned a new language, to read and that education
was necessary to secure their future. These parents raised their children with the belief
that education would open many doors for their children's futures.
The effects of education for the baby boomers was stronger than for their parents
of the Great Depression generation.
“College just isn’t for me,” cries the helpless senior, “I don’t know where to go, I’m not smart enough, and I can’t afford it.” Whether this statement is used as an excuse or it is sincerely believed is...