Updated on January 5, 2018
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, visit 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 October 24, 2018
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.