Generational Shockwaves and the Implications for Higher Education

Generational Shockwaves and the Implications for Higher Education

Edited by Donald E. Heller and Madeleine B. d’ Ambrosio

This volume, part of the TIAA-CREF Institute Series on Higher Education, is based on a national conference convened by the Institute in November 2007. The generational issues that were the focus of the conference raise both risks and opportunities with the potential to profoundly affect our cultural environment, both inside and outside academe.

Chapter 9: The ‘Boom’ Heard Round the Campus: How the Retirement of the Baby Boomers Will Affect Colleges and Universities

Karen Steinberg, Phyllis Snyder and Rebecca Klein-Collins

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, education, education policy, politics and public policy, education policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, education policy


9. The “boom” heard round the campus: how the retirement of the Baby Boomers will affect colleges and universities Karen Steinberg, Phyllis Snyder, and Rebecca Klein-Collins Asked to consider “Baby Boom retirees,” Americans are most likely to think about the hot topics of the political arena: Social Security and Medicare. In truth, however, the impact of the enormous wave of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age will be even more far reaching, affecting housing, health care, and even transportation. And the size of this group of retirees, along with their long track record of influencing our culture by behaving in unprecedented ways, is likely to challenge the world of colleges and universities as well. Higher education, according to projections, will be affected in terms of both supply and demand. Many faculty and administrators will leave academia at the same time that there is predicted to be a great surge in demand for higher education from this influential generation. And that is not the only surprise. While earlier generations of retirees might have turned to college and universities primarily to pursue hobbies, read the Great Books or otherwise make good use of their leisure time, Baby Boomers are expected to demand that plus much more. They will also turn to higher education to gain the skills they need to help them prepare for new ways of working. The challenge facing colleges and universities is big, but it is not insurmountable. Many of the strategies colleges and universities...

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