Why So Many Baby Boomers are Heading Back to the Classroom

Taking continuing education classes can help Boomers remain active and sharp.

Those born in the Baby Boom generation are now 52 to 70 years old. Many of them are retiring from their careers or from jobs they have held for many years. But they aren’t just retiring to the golf course or the senior citizens center to play cards. More seniors than ever are spending at least some of their retirement or free time in the classroom.

While a few Baby Boomers go back to college in the traditional sense — to earn a degree — most are taking continuing education courses on a more informal basis. Turns out, Baby Boomers aren’t interested in letting their brains stagnate or resting on their intellectual laurels. They have always had a great deal of curiosity about the world and everything in it, and retirement hasn’t changed that at all.

Continuing education courses can be a way for spouses to connect.

Why Baby Boomers Value Life-long Learning

While going back to college to get a degree may not be common among the Baby Boom generation, there are many reasons why they would want to take classes, whether or not they plan to continue working.

–To update skills for a job. For some Baby Boomers, work continues to be an important part of their lives. One way to show their continued value to an employer is to be sure that their skills remain updated and that they have an understanding of the latest practices in their profession.

–To fulfill a lifelong dream. Many people hit retirement age and realize that they never did some things they always wanted to do. Continuing education classes can provide the opportunity to accomplish these dreams, which can be as incredibly diverse as Baby Boomers themselves.

–To share experiences with loved ones. Another reason to take continuing education courses is to gain a greater understanding of your spouse’s or partner’s interests or career. Some people even take a course together to give them something to talk about over the dinner table.

–Just because they’re curious. After retirement, Baby Boomers may finally have the time to pursue interests that they never could take the time for when they were working. It can be an exciting time of life where they have time to do the things they always wanted to do but couldn’t because of work or family obligations.

It might seem strange that so many Baby Boomers actually want to go back to school, but they have always craved intellectual stimulation. Continuing education classes make it possible to satisfy their needs for continued mental workouts while pursuing all their other interests in work or retirement. Central Connecticut State University offers a variety of continuing education classes and Life & Leisure events that are open to all ages. From computers to social media, it will be easy to keep up with kids and grandkids or that young Millennial at the office. View our open courses list to see what options you have for continuing your education.

Why Learning Social Media is Like Playing Ping Pong

There are many sports parallels that can be made with business, or even life in general. One of most accurate when it comes to learning social media is the sport of ping pong. Both are fast-moving, skill-based and time-sensitive activities that are all about optimizing your opportunities when they are presented.

As with any sport, education and preparation are key to living up to expectations. Considering there are over 2 billion active social media users in the world, it’s safe to say you want to train hard and smart for a long and successful social media experience. Learning social media skills has many of the same phases as acquiring a sport, with continuing education as a keystone of your social media success. Let’s take a look at the phases and how you can learn to stay ahead of the curve.

Time to start the social media match! Let’s play!

The Mental Phase: Learning Your Game and Opponent

To thrive at a sport such as ping pong, you have to have an intimate understanding of the game fundamentals. The same rules apply for social media. Despite the simple sounding nature of this phase, there are some inherent challenges here.

The first to consider is that we have to change our natural method for interaction. Before social media became integrated into our lives, we were limited to the number of interactions we could hold at any given time. Social media allows you to reach countless people on the internet at a moment’s notice.

Also, take into consideration the method by which you communicate to these masses. There is almost a “virtual vernacular” for successful social media communication. Less formal, more direct and, most certainly, less censored.

Interaction has become more face-to-device instead of face-to-face.

Your opponent will be going for the same goal as you: to win customers (or points in ping pong). By learning your game well, you not only know what you need to do to succeed, but also can begin to predict how your competitors will be upping their social media game. This allows you to be mentally prepared before the real game begins.

The Physical Phase: Rapid Reactions to Win Points

Now that you are in the mental state to conquer your game, you need to be able to physically execute what you know needs to be done. Ping pong is all about quick reflexes to stay ahead of your opponent, be on the defense, and position yourself to win points.

With social media, the rapid reflexes come down to the speed at which you share information and respond to questions and comments from your followers. One of the best ways to become a leader on social media is by consistently posting timely topics and being responsive. This does require quick fingers and a clear mind; much like ping pong. Time is of the essence in our modern world!

With endless social media available to potential customers at the touch of a finger, you need to be faster than the rest of your competition to keep at the forefront.

The Improvement Phase: Continuing to Educate and Build on Established Skills

With the mental and physical aspects mastered, you need to continue to grow and excel at your social media game to stay on top. This is crucial, considering the fast-pace at which social media trends continue to evolve. You trained hard to win at social media, so keep your knowledge and skills on point!

Continuing education is a must for this phase. Adult education classes can be the backbone of your training program. A well-structured class allows you to keep current on social media trends and new platforms. Not only are you receiving instruction from qualified “coaches”, but you also do not have to waste precious time looking for these answers on your own when you could be winning on social media.

We bet you never realized that adult education classes could be applicable to so many different areas of everyday life. Want to see how many different options you have to deepen your skills and knowledge? Attend our social media boot camp or learn more about our Certificate in Online Management & Digital Strategy. View open courses today!

Should I Bother with Social Media?

Understanding social media is important to your business.

If your business doesn’t currently have a social media presence, you may be wondering if it’s worth the trouble. After all, the digital landscape evolves at lightning speed. Will you be able to keep up?

The truth is that social media has become an important element for connecting businesses to potential and existing customers. Businesses without a social media presence are missing opportunities daily, sometimes hourly, to find new customers, connect with existing customers, and shape the perception of their brand.

How Consumers Use Social Media

Social media has become the go-to standard when curious consumers want to find out more about a business. This includes special promotions, product information, and knowing which of their friends is following the business. Also, social media landing pages rank high in search listings, making them a likely first stop when consumers Google your business name.

According to a study by Expert Market cited in Social Times, consumers turn to social media most for discounts and deals, updates on products, and user reviews. An active social media page gives credibility to the business and shows that customers are engaged in the business’s doings.

Social media opens doors for marketing and customer engagement.

Social Media Builds Community

What business doesn’t want to be in touch with its customers in every way possible? Social media is all about interacting with customers through an everyday, real life channel that keeps your business in their minds and encourages them to share your happenings with their friends. The great thing about social media is that once you build a strong presence, it is an effective and inexpensive tool for marketing as well as feedback and tracking.

Unlike more traditional marketing methods, social media engages customers down the street and across the world at the same time, using the same information and posts. It also accomplishes several goals at once (marketing, customer service, and feedback). No other single venue can do what social media currently does, or do it as easily and naturally.

Social Media is Fun

Sometimes a business can take itself too seriously, which doesn’t tend to attract much attention or generate positive publicity. Social media is a place to have fun, to be lighthearted, and to create an atmosphere people will want to be a part of. Posting funny memes, hosting giveaways, and sharing compliments freely are all ways to have fun and keep things positive on your social media page.

Even negative comments or reviews can be an opportunity to handle problems head-on with grace and a positive attitude, which will go over well with all your other customers and earn you good will. Shaping your brand should be a fun endeavor, and social media can be a big part of that process.

Understanding social media takes time and effort. CCSU Continuing Education can give you the expertise and confidence to establish a social media presence that will benefit your business for years to come. Join our ‘Social Media Boot Camp’ to get started! If you are interested in learning more about our social media course and other available continuing education programs, view our open courses today!

6 Reasons All Employees Should Understand Social Media

Social media networking can help companies get the word out through their employees.

Join CCSU’s Social Media Boot Camp on Wednesday, September 21!

Social media may be a fun way to connect with friends and post about your life, but it is also a powerful tool for businesses to communicate and conduct marketing efforts. It is important that all employees have an understanding about how social media should and should not be used, for the benefit of the business. Here are some reasons to be sure all of your employees understand social media.

1. To prevent embarrassment (to the business and to employees).

It is a common occurrence to post complaints about your employer on social media. For some reason, employees never think company owners or bosses will see these complaints, but nothing is private on social media, and the employer is often part of the network. When employees understand that they could be sanctioned or fired for spreading bad press about the business on social media, it will prevent these embarrassing situations and spare all sides from backpedaling or apologizing.

2. To boost visibility and reach.

Encouraging employees to share a business’s social media posts can multiply that business’s reach and help make it more visible to the public. If even a few of those friends share with their friends or become customers, the business can grow its bottom line with minimal marketing cost.

3. To encourage positive press.

Employees that post positively about the business or suggest positive post ideas to the social media manager should be rewarded in whatever way the business can afford. Linking to blog posts and sharing positive stories about both the business and the employees can intrigue the public enough to get some to share or investigate further.

Social media can be a powerful tool for businesses.

4. To maintain the privacy of the business.

It’s important that all employees are informed about what information can and can’t be shared on social media. No proprietary, financial, or personal information should ever be shared, as it would be unethical and could be illegal, depending on what is shared.

5. To stop the bleeding.

If negative or private information has already been shared, employees must understand they need to take it down as soon as possible. Of course, a knowledgeable enough person could still get access to the deleted post, but this is less likely if it is quickly removed.

6. To promote the company in a non-invasive way.

Employees may feel like just a mouthpiece when they are asked to “talk up” the company to people they know, but doing the very same thing on social media can feel much more natural because it’s much more what people do there. Organizing a giveaway will encourage even more sharing and may get thousands of people involved in a short period of time.

Educating employees about social media is part of good business management and can have a significant positive impact on your company as well as preventing potential problems. If your HR department doesn’t have a social media policy as well as training so all employees are informed, it might want to seriously consider doing so in the near future.

Are you interested in developing a more social media-savvy team? Join the CCSU mailing list to get updates on digital training and other professional development courses. Sign up for CCSU’s Social Media Boot Camp on September 21 at http://www.ccsu.edu/ConEd.

Expert Interview Series: Paul Ritchie of PM College on The Benefits of Career-Oriented Education

Paul Ritchie, PMP, PMI-ACP, is Practice Director of PM College, the leading provider of strategy execution capability development services.

We recently talked to Paul about the benefits of career-oriented education programs and how to take full advantage of them. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about PM College. What educational opportunities do you offer?

PM College creates and delivers learning for strategy execution topics such as strategy, leadership, portfolio and project management.

What sets you apart from other schools or organizations offering career-oriented training programs?

Our programs don’t simply deliver pre-packaged content. We work with clients to tailor learning to their organization’s needs and opportunities. Furthermore, our clients leverage our research to assess their talent’s skills and competencies, which allows us to design targeted development experiences (e.g., training, coaching/mentoring, job rotation).

How important are training/educational programs like yours to the success of an individual or an organization?

Most clients use learning as a platform to support those taking on new roles. Our best clients use training, assessment and mentoring services throughout the talent lifecycle. Individuals should take the same perspective. Look at where you are, where you want to go and what you need to get there. Then be intentional about your next learning, mentoring and job experiences with that end in mind.

What are the biggest benefits to individuals of continuing education programs?

The biggest benefit is the opportunity for self-reflection. If you can look at yourself and realize what you need to do more of, less of and do better, you will evolve and grow. Related to that is the opportunity to try and fail in a safe environment. I’m a big fan of the Samuel Beckett quote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Continual learning is a way for us to “fail better” without risking our careers.

How important are strong project management skills in today’s business world?

Nearly everything is a project today. Even my son was doing projects in elementary school. If you don’t grow project management, you come in to the working world at a big disadvantage.

What types of training should project managers be investing their time in today?

Organizational leaders demand more strategy and leadership acumen from their project managers. Our research shows it is the most consistent and persistent skills gap in the profession. In particular, look for learning or experiences that focus project-oriented leadership skills, like stakeholder engagement or influence without authority.

Are all continuing education programs created equal? What should individuals look for when shopping around for educational opportunities?

Look for continuing education that is most relevant for where you want to go next. I really am impressed with strong industry/education partnerships, which, in our experiences, keeps the learning relevant and actionable.

What continuing education programs do you believe are not really worth the investment?

Anything that simply ticks off the “learning” box. Don’t offer – or attend – a learning opportunity just because it is there. It is a waste of your time … and your classmates’ time.

What should individuals do to make sure their making most of their educational opportunities?

Be intentional. Have a plan. Learn with the end in mind. Finally, don’t expect your talent or learning partners in human resources or personnel to figure it out for you. It is your life and your vocation: treat it that way.

Pave the way to achieving your professional goals. View open courses available at Central Connecticut State University.

The Top Reasons to Consider PMP Certification Training

Certified project management practitioners can lead their team confidently and professionally.

The benefits of obtaining a project management practitioner (PMP) certification are many, but the process of getting certified isn’t so simple. Here are some reasons to take a PMP certification training course like the one offered by CCSU’s Office of Continuing Education.

1. PMP certification gives you skills that you can use in your current job, or leverage to move into a more senior position. Employers will know that you have received professional training in project management and achieved standards set by industry professionals.

2. You could receive a salary increase for PMP certification because of your new, valuable skills including management of personnel, tasks, and complex projects that can move your company forward.

3. PMP certification will enable you to take on greater job responsibilities because you have learned and demonstrated project management skills and have been made aware of terminology, processes and developments in the field of project management.

4. With PMP certification, you will be able to evaluate team members and potential team members, pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses, and help them develop their potential. The projects you lead or that you are involved in will run more smoothly due to your newly learned skills in project management.

5. PMP certification will put you in touch with others who have the same credentials, providing networking opportunities and contacts that can lead to future career leads and collaborative development.

You can advance your career with PMP certification training.

6. A PMP certification training course will give you better preparation for the difficult test that you will have to take to become certified. Most test-takers spend upwards of 35 hours preparing for the test after coursework is complete, so a training course will help in that preparation.

7. Training that prepares you for the PMP exam will give you access to study aids like books, sample tests, and study groups made up of fellow test-preparers. Preparing for an exam using physical study aids and study partners has been shown to be more effective than preparing alone.

8. You will have a better chance of passing the exam after taking a training course designed specifically to prepare you for the test and the topics covered.

9. Without adequate preparation, you may have to retake the PMP exam several times, paying a fee each time. A PMP certification training course can end up saving you money by preparing you to pass the exam with fewer attempts.

10. The experience of training, preparing for, and taking the PMP certification exam will add confidence, challenge, and other positive benefits to your life and career. Preparing in a classroom situation with other like-minded individuals provides a higher quality learning experience than learning on your own or online.

CCSU’s Office of Continuing Education also offers the Associate in Project Management Exam Preparation (CAPM) for those not ready or in need of the PMP certification.The CAPM certification course begins in September and the PMP certification course begins in October. To register, visit CCSU’s Office of Continuing Education website. You can also join our mailing list to receive information about future course offerings.

How Human Resources Certification Programs can Enhance Your Career

Human resources certification has many benefits.

Human resources is a field that has experienced great increases in complexity over the last few decades. The regulations have grown exponentially, and the digital world has made choosing a job candidate easier in some ways and harder in others. It’s important for HR professionals to have a thorough education in both methods of hiring and the regulations that now govern the process of hiring and managing employees.

Along with the hiring process, HR professionals must have knowledge about how employees must be treated while they are employed, what benefits the company offers employees and how those benefits are administered, and what steps must be taken before an employee can be fired, should that ever be necessary.

Benefits of Human Resources Certification Programs

Although informal and company-specific training will probably be needed by most HR professionals, human resources certification programs standardize the training needed to work in the HR field and quantify it with an exam that shows concrete skills.

Many employers now require certification as a qualification for their open HR positions, knowing that anyone with certification has learned and demonstrated required skills. For senior positions especially, certification is required for most HR positions.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, organizations benefit from SHRM–CP certification by having the most updated information and skills about HR best practices. Being certified will make you a recognized expert and leader in your field, which will benefit your HR career.

SHRM certified HR professionals also earn significantly more than their counterparts who aren’t certified, according to a study by Payscale.com. Certified HR professionals studied earned a whopping $20,000 more than those not certified. HR assistants who were certified were also promoted nearly twice as often as those not certified. 63% of HR assistants with certification were promoted within 5 years, while only 34% of those without certification were promoted.

Certified human resources personnel are more likely to be promoted with certification.

Help With Certification Exam Preparation

The process of certification includes a comprehensive exam which students must pass that details knowledge of HR principles, skills and competencies. Taking preparation courses can improve your performance on the exam by detailing which information you need to know and helping material come alive with effective teaching methods.

Central Connecticut State University has partnered with the Society for Human Resource Management to offer 35 course-hours of preparation and training to prepare students to receive certification. Four different but related subject areas will be covered in the coursework: people, organization, workplace and strategy, and behavior competencies.

A professional certificate program is offered at CCSU, consisting of six 18-hour courses in leading edge HR training and best practices. Courses can be taken individually or together. These courses are helpful for those who want to further their education or brush up on their HR skills.

Are you interested in furthering your education to get ahead in your career? Join our mailing list for more information about these and other continuing education courses offered by CCSU.