According to Grandparents.com, 70 million Americans are grandparents. And today’s grandparents are active, healthy and have money to spend on what many say is the single most important and satisfying thing in their lives: Grandchildren. But while some grandparents might spring for a family vacation in order to get some quality time with their children’s children, others are taking a different route. They are going back to school and taking the grand-kids with them.
Ten years ago, the University of Wisconsin first launched a program designed to help grandparents revisit their past and connect with their grandchildren at the same time. Dubbed Grandparents University, the program encouraged former students to come back to campus with their preteen grandchildren for a few days of specialized coursework and activities. Since then, other colleges have followed suit and campuses across the country now offer their own Grandparents University courses.
Typically, families who attend Grandparents University stay in dorm rooms and attend mini-courses similar to those offered to college students. But the astronomy and dairy science courses aren’t the main draw. It’s the opportunity for grandparents to revisit their old haunts while bonding with their grandchildren that has made the programs so popular.
Of course, in addition to the money brought in from tuition to Grandparents University, there’s something else in it for the schools. They get to stay in touch with alumni, who are potential donors, as well as focus some subtle marketing attention on the kids who will someday be college-bound themselves.
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