Many adults enter the workforce before they complete their bachelor’s degree, and there are many reasons for this. Sometimes, the seemingly perfect job opportunity comes along, and they jump in without finishing school. Sometimes, starting a family means that a student needs to work full-time, and earning a degree gets put on the back burner.
Today, the world of higher education makes it easier than ever to enter a degree completion program and finally earn your bachelor’s degree. Regardless of why you had to put your college education on hold, if you are ready to complete it, there are programs out there for you.
Is It Worth It to Finish My Bachelor’s Degree?
If you are happily working in your career field but do not yet have a bachelor’s degree, you may wonder if the time and money investment makes sense. According to a recent article published by The College Board, the answer is yes.
Finishing your bachelor’s degree can potentially increase your income over your lifetime, and the unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees is lower than for those with just a high school diploma. While a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee employment, statistics indicate good potential with the right degree.
Interestingly, the research shows that having a bachelor’s degree is linked to improved lifestyle choices. For example, students who had at least a bachelor’s degree were more likely to engage in rigorous exercise than those who did not.
With statistics like those found in The College Board study linked above, you can see that earning your bachelor’s degree can be worthwhile. Thankfully, busy adults have several options they can consider to help them finish their degree while still focusing on other responsibilities.
Are Degree Completion Programs Designed for Working Adults?
Degree completion programs target people who started a college degree but did not complete it. Many working adults are in this category, so these programs offer the flexibility to make it possible for working adults to return to school.
To accommodate the needs of working adults, degree completion programs usually offer online and evening classes, so adults can go back to school without dropping their work responsibilities altogether. Flexible enrollment deadlines and summer schedules may also be features of these programs.
Advantages of Online Degree Programs
An online program is often a wise choice for working adults who return to school to finish college. One of the perks of online degree programs for those hoping to finish their bachelor’s degree while managing the demands of a job and a family is the flexibility they afford. Many programs allow you to study at times that work for you rather than requiring you to log in on a set schedule. This allows busy adults to complete their bachelor’s degree without taking time off of work.
Tips for Finishing Your Degree
Even with the flexibility of online learning, finishing your degree takes dedication and tenacity. As a working adult, you will face challenges as you try to incorporate coursework into your daily life. There are some strategies you can use to make it easier to stay the course. Here are some tips that can help you find success.
Determine Your “Why” for Finishing Your Degree
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to remember why you are doing it. What is motivating you to go back to school? Do you have a specific career goal in mind? Do you want to earn a degree to set a good example for your children? Your “why” will be different from the next student, but you need to identify it. Remembering your “why” when you have tough days will help you stick with it.
Consider writing down your why. You may find that there are several reasons why you want to go back to school. Write down your motivations, then determine which one is the most compelling. Consider making a visual representation, such as a vision board, to help you continue striving toward this goal.
Speak with Admissions Counselors
If you are getting ready to start a degree completion program for the first time, meet with an admissions counselor. They can help you identify a program that will help you achieve your goals. They can also assist with transferring credits and choosing a program that will maximize the credits you have already earned. Admissions counselors also are well-versed in tuition costs and financial aid programs that can make earning your degree more financially viable.
Outline your goals to the admissions counselor, and then listen to their feedback to determine the best course of action to meet those goals. The admissions counselor will walk you through the process of applying to your degree completion program so that you can avoid confusion or delays.
Look into Transfer Credits
Transfer credits can shorten the time it takes to complete your degree. If you have completed some college credits, consider seeing if they will transfer into your program. While each college or university has its unique policies about transfer credits. This means that the receiving college makes the decision to accept credits into their degree completion programs. If you already have an associate degree, you may be able to transfer those credits to complete a four-year bachelor’s program in less time. Talk to your advisor about getting your current or past college transcript and applying those credits toward your new degree.
Make Use of Your Work Experience
If you have work experience in your field, consider whether or not you can add that to your degree program. Post University offers a Prior Learning Assessment that allows students to submit portfolios and other work experience toward college credit in their degree. You may earn up to 30 credits toward a bachelor’s degree from relevant work experience in this way.
If you want to take advantage of the Prior Learning Assessment program, talk to an admissions counselor or your advisor. They will help you determine what work experience would qualify and help you put together a portfolio of as many credits as possible.
Research Financial Aid Options
Many financial aid options available to traditional students are also available to adult learners. Some programs are available to adult learners that may not be available to younger students.
The first step in finding financial aid is to complete the FAFSA. This will look different than it did when you were fresh out of high school because you will only be counting your income, not your parents’ income. This may mean you qualify for different financial aid.
Do not forget to see if your employer offers financial assistance options or other continuing education options. If finishing your bachelor’s degree will directly benefit your employer, they may be willing to offer scholarships or grants. The organization may also have education incentives it offers to all employees. Ask about these perks for working adult students to see if you can get additional money to pay for your schooling.
Going back to school is a great choice, and it can help you take the next step professionally, but you need to be realistic about how much you can handle. You are a working adult with many responsibilities to juggle. You may not be able to handle a full-time course load and want to ensure you only take on the amount you can handle with your other obligations. It may be necessary to spread out your degree to make your workload more manageable.
Build a Support Network
Going back to school to finish your degree requires support. Get your family on board and enlist the help and understanding of your close friends. Find out whom you can count on for babysitting and help around the house when needed. When you have to say “no” to activities or ask for help to get through a particularly busy week, that support network will be essential.
Learn About Degree Options with Post University
If you are interested in returning to school to finish college, Post University has many programs, many of which are available online. Our Prior Learning Assessment program allows you to receive credit for your work experience, and our generous credit transfer options allow you to make the most of the experience you already have. Pursue our available programs today, or talk to an admissions counselor to see what it would take to complete your degree.
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Please note that jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and its outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.