Baby Boomer Seeks College Training

Chris Little is a Senior Technician for STANLEY Engineered Fasteners, located in Stanfield. Chris is one of many baby boomers across the region who is returning to school again to expand the skills necessary to stay competitive in today’s job market.

“An AutoCAD Autodesk Certificate will further my value,” Chris explained. “I feel that a certificate is more valuable to me than pursing a degree at this time in my life.” At almost 50 years old, Chris tells us that he would eventually like to pursue a degree, but for now, all his spare time is spent caring for his disabled mother.

Chris was able to take an AutoCAD course at Stanly Community College (SCC), a course that, in the past, was typically only available to degree seeking students.

Sylvia Lewis, SCC’s Director of Business and Career Technologies, explained, “With recent changes from the North Carolina Community College System office, SCC is now able to offer courses such as AutoCAD through our ‘Transfer to Curriculum’ (TR) program. The benefits for our Continuing Education (ConEd) students is that we can offer a wider variety of courses and they receive the same instruction as any other student in a degree program. The TR program also benefits our curriculum students who do not receive financial aid and are enrolled in a degree program because they can take TR courses at the ConEd tuition rate and later request a credit transfer to curriculum. Students can earn up to 75% of their curriculum credits this way.”

Individuals seeking post-secondary education may not know the difference between a curriculum and continuing education course. Curriculum courses lead to a degree or transfer credits and some courses require appropriate prerequisites. Additionally, most courses are eligible for financial aid. Whereas, ConEd courses are non-transfer credits. These courses are often the same or similar to curriculum, but have more flexible schedules and instructional requirements. ConEd courses are usually offered to business and industry, often do not require prerequisites, and typically do not receive financial aid.

“We are happy we could accommodate Chris’s need to take the AutoCAD course. In a small community there is not always enough interest to be able to run a full ConEd course of this nature,” Ms. Lewis noted.

SCC offers hands-on training from caring instructors with practical experience in their respective field. Jeff Swaringen, Electronics Engineering Technology Instructor, practices different learning styles in his classroom to meet the varied age differences. “Mr. Swaringen, is a great teacher and connected with me in a unique way that really kept my attention,” Chris said. “The hardest part was getting up at 3:00 a.m., working until noon, then going to class. Many times I was exhausted by the time I got to class, but Mr. Swaringen helped me through the tough times and empowered me to become a successful student,” he added.

According to a recent report by Richard Johnson, Urban Institute, Retired vs. Rehired: Employment Challenges and Opportunities at Older Ages, “Economic security at older ages is becoming increasingly uncertain as the retirement landscape shifts. Additionally, older Americans will have to work longer and will move into jobs that differ from their career employment. Education is the key to working longer.”

Stanly Community College offers training for industry-recognized credentials that are affordable and flexible. Many of the certificates can help you qualify for a job, get a promotion, or earn more money in your existing job.

For more information about Business and Career Technology courses, contact Sylvia Lewis at (704) 991-0287 or

Chris Little

Chris Little