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How Long Does it Take to Finish College?

Ana-Marcela Lopez

If you have completed some college but never finished your degree, you are not alone. In fact, you are a part of the majority of students who take longer than 4 years to graduate. Despite the widespread perception that college students graduate in 4 years, Complete College America found that only 41% manage to do so. Life events, family obligations, inadequate financial aid, and a host of other obstacles can take you out of the classroom, but finishing college is always a good idea. So as you prepare to go back to school, you’re probably wondering how long it will take to finish your degree. 

College is no walk in the park, and you’re wise to consider the time and effort it will take to finally graduate. So how long will it take you to finish? Well, it depends. Every student has different circumstances and transcripts, so how long it will take you to finish your degree largely depends on the following factors: 

  • What you already have: The first step to figuring out how long it will take to finish your degree is to take stock of what you already have. Request a transcript from your previous institution and consult the registrar’s office at your desired institution. They can help you figure out which courses can transfer and apply to your renewed degree path. Typically, general education courses are easier to transfer since major-specific requirements are much more stringent and dependent on each school.
  • Where you’re going: 
    • Do you want to go to the same institution at which you started? If you enjoyed your time at your original institution, consider reapplying.
    • Do you want to go to another institution? Sometimes an obstacle to getting your degree can be the institution itself. You are an individual with unique needs and learning styles, and your previous institution might not have been suited to you—and that’s okay!
  • What kind of program: The type of program you’re applying to affects completion time as well. For example, a degree in STEM might have evolved since you were last in school, so you might need to retake courses. For humanities degrees, there might be less variation on credits, and you can start where you left off. Every institution is different, so check with the registrar’s office at your school. 
  • Full-time or Part-time: Naturally, a full-time student finishes their degree more quickly than a part-time student, but a full-time education might affect your ability to balance whatever other responsibilities you may have as an adult. If you can’t make room for a full-time education, you may otherwise find schools with flexible, accelerated programs. because plenty of schools offer flexible, accelerated programs. 

At Abound, we understand how an adult’s unique circumstances—whether they be a full-time job, a family, or financial issues—can stand in the way of getting a degree. That is why we recognize schools that go the extra mile to mitigate these circumstances and help students get the education they deserve. Below are just a few examples of schools that are accessible, accessible, affordable, and advanced:

      • Loyola University Chicago: Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is dedicated to empowering students of all ages and backgrounds. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers an affordable and accessible education for working adults. Students can take classes 100% online or on campus for night and weekend classes. Loyola offers accelerated 8 week courses so students can complete their degree swiftly. Students who have completed some college but never finished are also eligible for experience-based credit. 

As an Adult, am I Eligible for FAFSA?

      • Mount Saint Mary’s University: Serving working adults since 1991, Mount Saint Mary’s University is a leader in adult education. Boasting an enrollment of over 400, the adult degree program at Mount Saint Mary’s is offered online, in the evening, and on weekends. Adult students are taught by the same faculty as traditional undergraduates, and receive the same support and resources. Transfer credits and employer tuition reimbursement are accepted to help students complete their degree as quickly and easily as possible. 
      • Mercer University: Mercer University offers flexible and convenient degree programs for adults at every stage in their career. Accelerated 8-week sessions are offered in the evening, on the weekends, and completely online. Each student is guided through their education with help from the Student Success Team and their personal academic advisor. With over 35 undergraduate programs available for working adults, Mercer has plenty of options for an adult student’s future. 

While it’s great to have a timeline of when you want to accomplish your goals, you don’t need to adhere to the same timeline as everyone else. If you didn’t finish your bachelor’s degree in 4 years, or even 6 years, that’s ok. Everyone’s path to a degree has different twists and turns, but with a clear plan, you can reach the finish line. How long it will take you to finish your degree depends on your unique circumstances. No matter how long it’s been or how long it takes, we’re here to help. Abound: Finish College narrows down your options and gets you in touch with schools that we can confirm are Accessible, Affordable, Accelerated, and Advanced. Take a look at the schools we trust and find the program that works for you.

More Helpful Guides:

The Adult Student Checklist

What is an Adult Degree Completion Program?

Will My Previously Earned Credits and Coursework Transfer

7 Tips to Help You Balance School and Work

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