A quiet revolution is occurring. Students over age thirty-five were just 5.5 percent of higher-education enrollment in 1970; today 22 percent of all college students are over thirty-five. Meanwhile, the percentage of adults age sixty-six to seventy-four who enrolled in at least one adult-education course more than doubled between 1990 and 2000, to 20 percent. Retirees represent 25 percent of the ten thousand University of Chicago students taking noncredit courses in the arts and sciences. The trend toward older students will build as adults of all ages seek to upgrade their knowledge through formal university programs, correspondence courses, and employer-provided retraining. This is a worldwide phenomenon. In one respect, Canadians are leading the way, with 6 percent of all adults enrolled in one or more university courses. South Korea ranks second, followed by Australia and then the United States. But New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Spain, Ireland, and France aren't far behind.
Being a grandpa or a grandma will rock if we plan for those later years now, doing what we must to be able to stay active, in tune, and in touch. Is it possible to stay hip when we've reached the age of grandparenting? Ask Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, or Keith Richards. All of them have kids with kids. They still rock, and none has lost an ounce of cool. When asked about his age, Richards recently commented, "Getting old is a fascinating thing.The older you get, the older you want to get."
We have grown up equating retirement with old age. But with the oldest of our generation starting to celebrate sixty, that's beginning to change. We aren't looking to be old or to wind down. We're looking to begin a whole new life when we reach our fifties and sixties. Having a positive outlook and understanding that life's next chapter is just that -- not the beginning of the end of life -- are vital to making it fun and fulfilling.
The power years are coming, and we want to be your guides.