Updated on February 22, 2016
By Joan L.
I know there are many people like me who never quite finished their degree after spending a couple of years in college. For some it was the need or desire for a paycheck, and for others- well, life just got in the way. Whatever the situation, it can be frustrating and embarrassing to admit to yourself, friends and co-workers that you don’t have a degree.
When I was laid off from a company after working my way up for 13 years, I decided it was time to go back and finish my degree-before my daughter just entering high school started college.
Looking at job opportunities was discouraging without it. I knew my old company paid for tuition and books. Being a working mom, I felt it would have been impossible to take advantage of this and work while finishing college at the same time. If I had only known what I needed to get started and finish, I would have done it years ago.
It took a while to convince myself that going back to school would be worth it. I had so many questions:
- What would it cost?
- Would it be flexible enough with my work and home life?
- Will my credits from community college transfer to a four-year university after all this time?
When I looked into it, I was relieved to find that:
- Many four-year universities now offer the flexibility of part-time programs, evening courses, accelerated formats and online programs to better align with an adult students life and work needs.
- Enrollment procedures for returning adult students are becoming simpler and offer greater support and resources like transfer credit assessments and financial aid information.
On a personal level, it was encouraging to see there were others like me out there, and that a degree was within reach.
If you’re in a similar situation and don’t know where to start, here are some tips that helped me find the right college and get started right away:
- Collect copies of previous transcripts from college courses regardless of how long it has been. If it’s been less than 10 years, some of these transcripts may be accessed online; otherwise you will need to contact the institution for copies. * Hint: Always ask for numerous copies that are sealed and official so you have them if you apply to more than one place. That way you can have one for yourself that you can open and look at when it comes in the mail. Once you open it, it is considered unofficial.
- Research colleges that offer the programs and flexibility to meet your needs. That might include part-time, evening, weekend, or online programs. Information forums, tours and meetings are a valuable tool in guiding your decision whether or not a college is a right fit.
- Have a transfer credit assessment done to see what is transferable. Credits are usually available for accredited two and four year college courses, military active service, police academy, nursing programs, and college level examination programs: AP, CLEP and International Baccalaureate Exams.
- See what the options are for start dates. Programs for adults are usually offered with start dates year-round.
- Look at majors and programs that will help meet your personal and career goals. Some people make career changes when they have this opportunity.
- Research ways to pay for your education. There are more financial opportunities available than you might think. Some employers even offer money to help pay for the cost of tuition.
- If you are missing lower division general education and prerequisite classes, it is possible in some cases to complete them at a 2-year college while attending a 4-year institution.
I’m happy to say I was able to finish my degree within two years while going part-time at night. You don’t need to wait until you get laid off from a job to finish. Going back for a bachelor’s degree was the best decision I ever made. The advisors at Notre Dame de Namur University, where I chose to finish my degree, worked with me to identify what evening classes were needed to complete my degree as soon as possible with a clear roadmap to follow.
Get a free transfer credit evaluation.
Click the button and specify that you would like a transfer credit evaluation done at no cost or obligation. An advisor will contact you.
Updated on April 7, 2016
As someone who went back to college later in life, and as a parent who paid for the first child’s private education, and has another one currently in college, I understand the benefits of seeking out scholarship opportunities. It would have been a tremendous help to know that we were most likely eligible for something, even if it was small.
Once I started to work in education, I was shocked to learn how much money goes un-awarded because people just don’t apply. I also discovered that grant and scholarship aid for full-time students continues to increase. According to College Board, 53% of college tuition is paid for through scholarships and grants, but there is still a lot of money that goes un-awarded due to lack of applicants.
Here are some useful tips that I found while searching for scholarships.
- Do not pay a fee for scholarship searches. If you work independently you can generally find more sources than using a paid service.
- Resources like high school and college guidance counselors, web searches, information from the Department of Education and other sources are available to help you organize your search.
- As you search you may notice that often grant or scholarship searches are focused on targeted groups like academics, talent, athletics, diversity, underrepresented groups (example: first generation students) and geographical locations. If you string together words like scholarships, grants, college, university, adult, graduate student, major of interest, your ethnicity or groups you are involved with, this can also bring up random scholarships that are available.
- Graduate, credential and adult (non-traditional) students should also do these searches. There are generally less funds available for these groups, but it can be worth the effort.
- In exchange for use of a web site you might be asked to provide your email. People often create a secondary email from a free service if they are asked to provide their information, especially if they are concerned about the free search sites searching them out as well. That way you also have all of the sites and responses in one place.
- Listed outside scholarships are additional to what a specific college might offer and do not include other grants or scholarships that a school’s financial aid office can determine your eligibility. Always remember to check with them as well.
- Search local, you’d be surprised how many local scholarships are available, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
With the internet the search process has become much easier. There are many sites available to search from. In our free download, “Outside Scholarship Search Information For College Students,” we’ve included links to most of the key sites, as well as sites for diverse groups. Download it today and get started on your scholarship search!
Updated on February 20, 2013
A number of charities and businesses across the country have named today “Giving Tuesday,” so perhaps it is fitting that today representatives of NDNU’s Mail Center delivered more than 20 boxes of warm weather clothing to InnVision/Shelter Network. However, community engagement isn’t a one-day process; at NDNU, it’s a way of life.
Even though David Baird doesn’t work in the classroom, he still found a way to incorporate the social justice mission of the university into his work and teach those values to our students. Baird, who runs the university’s Mail Center, organized a coat drive for the second consecutive year not only to help those who needed clothing to keep warm in the winter, but also to demonstrate to his student workers the importance of helping those who are in need. “I like involving the students so we can give them a taste of what community engagement is like, and show them that it doesn’t take much effort to help lots of people,” said Baird. The students who assisted Baird with the coat drive are Alex Aguilar, Sal Arias, Gerardo Rodriguez, Marisela Torres, Cristina Basulto and Jordan Tupfer Cruz. “Marisela went with me to deliver the coats,” said Baird, “and we talked about how the little that we did makes a big difference. She could appreciate that.”
From October 15 to November 21, the Mail Center collected donations of coats, rain jackets, boots, scarves, hats, sweaters and umbrellas from students, staff and faculty. Anyone wishing to make a donation simply had to notify the Mail Center and someone would come to pick the items up. “I am so thankful for our campus community’s effort in this coat drive,” said Baird. “It is heartwarming to know that everyone cares enough to help our neighbors in need.”
Top photo: David Baird with students Marisela Torres and Jordan Tupfer Cruz before delivering donations to InnVision/Shelter Network.
Updated on February 20, 2013
The following is an article by Melissa Book McAlexander, Ph.D. and Isabelle G. Haithcox, Ph.D. that will appear in the premiere issue of NDNU Today, the magazine of Notre Dame de Namur University. The entire magazine will be available online Wednesday, October 10 at ndnu.edu/magazine.
NDNU is about to embark on one of the most exciting endeavors in its history. Thanks to over $6 million in grants from the federal government that we were eligible to receive as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), NDNU is instituting exciting new programs to help Hispanic and low-income students succeed in college. Some of the grant funds are earmarked especially to help more Hispanic and low-income students pursue careers in what are called STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions. Yet for all our good intentions, programs like ours will fail miserably if we don’t take science education at the high and middle school level more seriously.
Case in point: California, a state known for its progressive environmental policies and leading-edge technology, ironically stood on the cusp of setting science education back by decades during the state budget negotiations earlier this year. At a time when the rest of the world is becoming increasingly competitive in science and technology, a little-known provision of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2013-14 budget would have eliminated the requirement that high school students take two years of laboratory science and instead require one.
Thankfully, the approved budget salvaged the funding for a second year of science, although Gov. Brown promises massive cuts to education in November if voters don’t approve a tax increase. But the fact that California’s leadership, overseeing the ninth largest economy in the world, so devalues science education that it’s willing to risk producing a generation of science illiterates is alarming. Our focus needs to be on better preparing our students. As it is, students in California and across the country all too frequently arrive in high school with limited science experience from elementary or middle school. The intense focus on testing in math and reading in early grades, increasing class sizes, and ever-smaller budgets leaves little room for serious science education. Even two years of mandatory laboratory science in high school can’t completely close that gap. The effect of these years of limited experience in science is that many students arrive in college uninterested in science and at a disadvantage in developing critical thinking skills. One of my colleagues, who has taught middle and high school science, says science is critical for “figuring stuff out.” Science experiences help students gain the skills they need to solve challenges and make decisions in all areas of their lives, not just in chemistry. Additionally, students who may be interested in science degrees often lack proper foundations for scientific observation or measurement when they begin college-level work.
Meanwhile, colleges and universities struggle to fill gaping holes in STEM education. How can students from low-performing and under-funded schools eventually pursue the high-paying jobs available in STEM fields, when they arrive at college ill-prepared for even the introductory coursework in these majors? To adequately support these students, we’ll need more tutoring and academic support; otherwise, these students are at risk of earning low grades or changing majors before they’ve gotten through the gateway courses.
Why does all of this matter? Well, for one thing, the federal government has been emphasizing the importance of strengthening science, technology, engineering and math education to keep the U.S. workforce competitive in a global economy. President Obama has called for training 100,000 new STEM teachers by 2020 and generating a million new STEM graduates in order to keep the United States’ edge as a leading technological innovator. The country needs graduates proficient in STEM fields to fill jobs in fields ranging from computer science to environmental engineering to renewable energy. We also need knowledgeable teachers at all levels, from kindergarten to university, to prepare
our students to pursue these careers.
High school science classes are vital for exposing students to STEM fields; for some, it will be the last science instruction they ever have, and for others it will lay the groundwork for a college major and perhaps a science-related career. Either way, we’ll only harm ourselves by failing to provide comprehensive science education in high school. By generating high school graduates uninterested and ill prepared for STEM majors and careers, we’ll be creating a knowledge deficit from which we might never rebound.
While programs like those now offered at NDNU are invaluable, they’re no substitute for good educational policy and investment in science education. St. Julie Billiart, co-foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame said, “Teach them what they need to know for life.” In providing support for students pursuing STEM fields at NDNU, we are doing just that.
Posted on July 25, 2012
We don’t know about you, but we find a bunch of numbers are much easier to grasp when they’re jazzed up with graphics, so we’re trying something a little different.
Every year we put out a Fast Facts card with the latest enrollment stats; here it is revamped as an infographic!
We hope this gives you a clearer picture of what to expect at NDNU!
P.S. This infographic comes along with a new design of the About Us section of our website – why don’t you take a look?
Updated on July 20, 2012
At NDNU, we’re always looking for new ways to give our students a leg up. That’s why we just teamed up with SALT, a program of American Student Assistance (ASA), to help our students manage their education funding and personal finances. Best of all, this service is available at no extra charge to all of our students and alumni; you just have to sign up!
SALT is simple. When you log in to your account for the first time, you’ll be asked a few questions about yourself so it can gather your federal loan information. Everything you need to know about your student loans will be in one spot, making it easier for you to see the big picture and manage your payments. No financial mumbo jumbo. It’s all laid out for you in a way you can understand, so you can finance your education and set yourself in the right direction financially for the future. If you also have private loans, you can add those in manually. SALT will crunch all the numbers and tell you how many loans you have, how much you owe, and your monthly payment based on the standard repayment plan. If that number is too big, SALT shows other repayment options available to you, gives you a reason why each option is better, and tells you how much you would have to pay under those plans.
But it doesn’t stop at student loans! SALT also helps you manage your money in other areas in your life. Let’s say you have a job, or are looking at a certain kind of job and know how much income you’d make. Enter that income and the type of place you’re living in or want to live in (small, average or large city), and it lays out your options in a simple graphic – your payments for your loans, housing, recreation, food, and transportation, and what you’ll get in each of those categories. Looking for a job? There’s a tool for that. Need scholarships? There’s a tool for that too. If you’re confused about all the fancy loan names, SALT breaks it down for you, in a way you understand. And let’s not forget that with My Money 101, you can take financial courses online in areas such as budgeting, credit cards, and reaching your financial goals, so that you’re armed with the financial know-how to go out in the world and pave the life you want.
Are you ready to take charge of your student loan management? Get financially savvy with SALT at NDNU.