This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Never Too Late: Baby Boomers in College in Preparation for the Third Age




Tyler, James

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work


The objective of this study was to investigate the question of how motivation and ability interact in the decision to start or return to college among retirement-age Boomers and those within close proximity to retirement age. The primary focus was on motivations and goals, and perceived and actual hindrances. The study used Clausen’s (1998) life review and life story approach. The primary motivational values were the importance of education, work ethic and work centrality, the American Dream, social issues, and government and politics. These were stressed in youth at home and (relative to education, work ethic, and American Dream) in school. These motivations and values appeared to remain strong throughout the life history of the individuals studied. Barriers common to almost all the participants included time management, family issues, institutional issues (during enrollment and in-program), and ageism. Many individuals felt that these were on-going issues, especially in the areas of ageism and balancing education and family time.