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Baby Boomers and Seniors Embrace Lifelong Learning

Campus-based housing offers lifelong learning, a chance to relive college days

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When a group of older adults, age 55-75, were asked if they would be interested in lifelong learning and living in a college atmosphere, more than half of the respondents said they like the idea of retiring to a home on a college campus.

Campus Continuum, a developer of campus-based housing for adults age 55 and older, created the survey to gauge older adult interest in the concept of living in “a community of active life-long learners affiliated with an academic institution.” The company plans to use the survey results to determine future site for lifelong learning communities.

“In 20 years, there will be 70 million people over age 65 in the U.S. and retirement lifestyles will be radically different from today,” says Gerard Badler, Campus Continuum Managing Director, in a news release. Badler says that while there are only about 20 campus-based communities across the U.S. currently, interest is growing among older adults and college administrators.

Highlights of the Survey about Lifelong Learning and Campus Life
The survey of 233 older adults age 55-75 found that many respondents are interested in lifelong learning, and that small college towns are especially appealing in retirement years.

When asked, “At what age would you seriously consider moving into a college retirement community,” the most frequent responses were ages 61 – 65 (32 percent), 66-70 (23 percent), and 56 – 60 (16 percent).

And while 58 of the survey respondents have a Masters degree or higher level of education, more than 1/3 expressed interest in retiring to a university with which they had no prior affiliation (as an alum, faculty member, or donor.).

Survey respondents said they:

  • Prefer to live on or near a small college town campus (58 percent). Allowed to choose more than one location preference, 37 percent said they prefer a suburban area, and 28 percent prefer lifelong learning in a city location.
  • Would be “very interested” in lifelong learning, which included taking courses with traditional college students (62 percent)
  • Prefer to own their residence in a college-affiliated community (46 percent)
  • Are willing to move further distances from their current location than is typically reported in other retirement relocation surveys; 46 percent would move more than 100 miles to their preferred college destination, and 27 percent would move more than 500 miles for a lifelong learning opportunity.
  • Would be willing to live away from the campus, but not very far—45 percent said the maximum desirable distance of the community from the main campus is 2 miles; 25 percent said 2-5 miles; 22 percent said 5 – 10 miles is acceptable. Only 2 percent of respondents insisted that the lifelong learning housing community be located directly on campus.
  • Are very interested in volunteering on campus as a tutor, mentor, part-time lecturer, or museum guide (64 percent).
  • Are very interested in volunteering off campus in elementary schools, libraries, and hospitals (52 percent).

Lifelong Learning Benefits Older Adults, and That Benefits the Community
The concept of lifelong learning communities is a “win-win-win,” according to Badler. He says there are numerous advantages for people 55+ who choose to live on or near campuses, for the colleges, and for the surrounding communities.

Are you interested in finding a lifelong learning residential community? Check out Campus Continuum Resources for the company’s current and future campus housing developments, or check with your local colleges, universities, and alumni associations.

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