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It's never too late to learn new skills page 2
Back to School: It's never too late for adults to go back to college


Date published: 8/2/2012

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But those same technological advances that can be jarring for older adults allow many to return to class in the first place.

"In the 1980s, someone wrote your name on a chalkboard and gave you your schedule. Now you can make your schedule online. You can put your schedule together, find the online [class] schedule, hybrid classes, and make it work for you," Haines said. "There is flexibility that was never there before."

Martha O'Keefe, dean of Workforce and Professional Development at Germanna, has seen an uptick in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning program, the electrical apprenticeship program and in health care certifications, such as phlebotomy and medical assisting.

"These courses are offered in evenings and in a compressed format. Some are in a hybrid format," O'Keefe said.

Some adults return to college to hone their skills.

"The job market is such that it's always changing and always growing. Jobs are always evolving. It really helps to stay ahead of the curve. Everything is growing, from social media to new computer programs," O'Keefe said. "It allows folks to feel confident when they're going on job interviews. They can say they've kept up on computer skills. That will tell an employer the applicant is willing to learn and has recently gone through an educational experience. That's going to be a stronger applicant."

The anxiety that some non-traditional students feel is often "offset by a strong desire to succeed. They tend to be very motivated, committed and focused. They tend to be very specific in their goals," O'Keefe said.

Powers is now pursuing his master's degree in history online from American Public University. "My first goal was just to get my associate degree," he said. "I had such a good time doing that, so I went on and got my bachelor's degree."

"It was really tough sometimes," Powers said. One semester, he also coached his daughter's soccer team.

But Powers would like to earn the history degree so he can go back to Germanna and teach--and hopefully inspire other students the way his history instructor, Edwin Watson, inspired him, he said.

Kristin Davis is a freelance writer who lives in Fredericksburg.


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