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Boomers Continue Quest to Learn: Boomers Redefine Retirement

Baby boomers are reportedly the most-educated generation in history. They have made a career of learning and will continue to take classes while in retirement, giving more meaning to lifelong learning

AARP reported in January of this year that boomers may well change the way traditional higher or continuing education will be in the near future.

“Leading-edge boomers, ages 50-59, are the most emphatic about” changing careers to a service career, according to the report. In addition to switching careers now, nearly two-thirds of that age group never expect to retire and instead want to start working in the arts or environmental jobs, or jobs where they can help the poor, elderly or children.

The bottom line? Boomers want to be a new style of leader that can help change the world. And, they need more education to make the switch. AARP also reported the traditional lecture format of education will begin to transition to more of a think-tank on how to “tackle major social needs.”

On a more local level, there are a slew of educational opportunities in a variety of learning models. All of the colleges and universities in North Canton, along with a couple of places that may surprise boomers, have plenty of classes available.

“We did a survey along with Plain Local Schools to see what the area’s interest was in continuing education classes,” said Barbara Milliken, dean of Corporate Services and Continuing Education at . “There is a strong interest in Internet-related classes, learning to use personal electronic devices, stress management classes, art classes and recreational classes such as scrapbooking.”

 also has seen many boomers signing up for new career training classes.

“There seems to be a strong interest among boomers to reinvent themselves and they are getting retrained in areas such as health care,” Milliken said.

Most boomers are technology-wise and are open to online learning.

“Stark State offers many online courses that would appeal to retiring boomers, including genealogy, history, how to write a novel or how to tell your life story,” said Russ O’Neil, director of continuing education.

All of the area universities including , and offer programs for people over 60 years of age. Boomers can take college credit or non-college credit courses at all three.

Fred Pisani retired from the Hoover Company when he was 56 years old and shortly after returned to college at Walsh University. He was retired for about month before he got bored and went out and got another job managing Jackson Township’s recycling center. While working at the Jackson Recycle Station, Pisani decided to return to college.

“When we vacationed, we always seemed to visit museums and art halls and I’ve always loved to walk around old buildings, so I registered with the SPS (School for Professional Studies) program and majored in museum studies,” Pisani said. “I was 60 years old when I returned to college at Walsh. Since I was in the over-60 program, Walsh paid for most of my classes and I paid for the books.”

Pisani attended Walsh in the mid-1960s and again in the mid-1980s. He is actually using his degree with a new job with the Cat Fancier’s Association museum planned to open on the ground floor of the organization’s new office building in Alliance. He will help the organization get the museum started and running.

There are other opportunities for learning around town, including the that offers classes from container gardening classes to learning how to use Microsoft Office through online tutorials. 

“We offer all types of classes throughout the year for boomers to explore hobbies and recreational areas,” Library Director Sandi Lang said.

Stark Parks also offers some nontraditional training classes, including woodcarving, adult archery, kayaking and tours that teach Stark County historical perspectives.

“Stark Parks owns a number of historical sites and we are finding the boomers are particularly interested in history,” said Connie Ruben, public relations coordinator and grant writer.

Other places around town to find challenging and interesting classes include the at on Cleveland Avenue near Mt. Pleasant Street. And, the Gervasi Vineyard on 55th Street offers classes on wines.

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