At some point before the end of the year, let’s take a breath and reflect on what you want to accomplish come 2013. If you haven’t yet earned your bachelor’s degree, this could be your year to return to college, and bachelor’s degree completion programs could provide valuable assistance.
First off, don’t dwell on why you left. Instead, realize that there are credits you have earned … consider it a head start to finally earning your bachelor’s degree. And here’s the cool thing: Schools have created specific adult student-friendly college programs that encourage and learners just like you to return to school.
In 2012, Northwestern University received a whopping $1 million to help adult students resuming their education. The gift, from the Bernard Osher Foundation, helps fund scholarships through the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program for first-time degree seekers who are returning to school after being absent from the classroom.
Also in 2012, Montana State University announced a new online bachelor completion program, which reflects how schools recognize that a number of adults need to finish their degrees. Many schools are using the Internet to make degree dreams come true with flexibility.
Even if you’re happy in your current job, attaining a bachelor’s degree could enable you to move into a new position, land a job with another employer, or increase your salary (data shows that you can earn 50 percent more with a bachelor’s degree than with a high school diploma). If you are unemployed, earning your bachelor’s degree could be essentially in helping you hear the words “you’re hired.”
Typically, bachelor’s degree completion programs are open to anyone 25 or old whose undergraduate education was interrupted. Here is a look at a few of those programs, which offer assistance in applying, determining credit hours needed, financial aid, and other help.
Connecticut College’s Return to College program: Allows students to enroll in 12 or fewer credit hours a semester, instead of the traditional 16 credit hours.
Graduate Minnesota: A statewide program to encourage students to finish their degrees; it offers credits for prior learning though work experience, civic activity and other outside the classroom experiences.
Bard College’s Returning to College Program: Students typically spend at least two years at Bard to finish their degree. The school may accept transfer credits, and then students in the program participate in a regular undergraduate curriculum. You’ll move into your major area of study and complete a senior project to earn the degree.
Kansas State Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs: Kansas State’s programs offer choices, in terms of courses, degrees and ways to learn (face to face and online).
If you’re considering completing that bachelor’s degree, here are a two quick suggestions for taking that next step:
1. Find a program that fits your schedule. The great thing about some bachelor’s degree completion programs is that they understand that adult students are juggling family, work, and other activities. By being able to take fewer hours, or schedule courses at times that fit your schedule or learn online, going back to school may be easier than you think.
2. Pursue financial aid. Realize that you don’t have to bear the cost of college completely on your own. From school scholarships and maybe even tuition reimbursement offered by your employer, there are ways to cut your college costs. You also could submit the FAFSA to possibly attain federal grants and loans.
Here’s to a wonderful 2013 filled with new opportunities, including finishing your bachelor’s degree.
-Additional reporting by Carolyn Crist