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Plus 50 Adults at Santa Fe College

By Wendy Erisman
Strix Research, LLC

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) began its Plus 50 Completion Strategy in an effort to help adults over age 50 who are seeking employment, promotion or a career change. Through grants and technical assistance to 17 community colleges across the nation, AACC has supported these colleges in providing training and career development to more than 20,000 Plus 50 adults over the last four years with more than 8,800 of these adults completing a postsecondary credential. 

The Plus 50 Completion colleges emphasize outreach to adults over age 50 through advertising campaigns, college publications, and information sessions with the goal of enrolling these potential students in workforce programs that will lead to career opportunities in their local communities. To support their Plus 50 students, many of the colleges also offer coaches to assist students in navigating college requirements, brush-up courses in English, math, and computer skills, career development workshops, and professional development for instructors who will work with Plus 50 students.

One of the Plus 50 Completion colleges is Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. Since 2010, the college has enrolled 548 Plus 50 students in its health sciences, business, education, digital media, and internet technology programs, and 260 of these students have completed a degree or certificate. These career and vocational programs, particularly those in the health sciences, are well-suited to older students and offer many employment opportunities in the Gainesville area. Once enrolled in a degree or certificate program, Plus 50 students have access to all of the college’s services, including program-specific advisers and student retention advisers who have received training on working with older adult students.

At Santa Fe College, the Plus 50 program is administered through the Community Education division. The program advertises in the local newspaper and places flyers in locations where they are likely to be seen by older adults such as libraries and community centers. A particularly valuable outreach tool is a brochure on continuing education classes sent each semester to many individuals throughout the college’s service area. The program also uses free workshops on career exploration, resume writing and interviewing for career changers, and navigating the college experience—as well as open houses for interested adults age 50 and older—as strategies to engage potential Plus 50 students. In addition, through a recent grant from the AARP Foundation, which is also designed to support adults age 50 and older, the college is now able to offer scholarships and more intensive coaching to some of their low-income older adult students.

Learn more about AACC’s Plus 50 Completion Strategy: http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu/aboutplus50/Pages/default.aspx

Learn more about Plus 50 at Santa Fe College: http://www.sfcollege.edu/cied/communityed/index.php?section=50index

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMAvuKvFo0Q for a video advertising the college’s Plus 50 health sciences open house.

Note: Strix Research works with Higher Ed Insight, serving as the independent evaluator for Lumina Foundation's adult college completion strategy.

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