Should I Finish College?
In recent years, the boom of tech startups and stories of self-made millionaires has sparked some arguments about whether a college degree is worthwhile. But while some try to debate its value, the evidence shows that earning a bachelor’s degree nevertheless offers a number of benefits for both your personal and professional life. What’s more, employers today are growing nervous about how this college skepticism might impact the future, as they are already having trouble finding skilled workers. “Despite a lingering high unemployment rate, employers say that they lack qualified job applicants. By 2020, two thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary education.”
Sure, success is not exclusive to those who earn a degree, but there is also no denying that an education certainly has a competitive edge in the job market. There are many reasons to finish your degree, but there are also many factors to consider with them. Whether you are starting fresh or already have a few credits to your name, the decision to go back to school is nothing to take lightly.
If you’re not sure if you should, or not sure if you’re ready, take some time to think about what it would mean to finish your degree. Chances are you might be facing a confidence gap that is discouraging you to enroll—but don’t let that stop you! If anything, your life experiences may benefit you as you decide what you want out of higher ed.
What is your motivation?
If you’re one of the millions of students who took a few college courses before ultimately leaving, your decision to return might be largely informed by your circumstances. Did you not have enough time? Was it too expensive? Were you bored by the coursework? Did you not have goals set? Reflect on your past experiences and think about how you can make different decisions that will help see you through to the end.
Set personal goals. Going back to school is tough. It’s time consuming, it’s costly, and it can sometimes seem exhausting, if not impossible. Higher education is supposed to be challenging, and one of the best ways to power through it is to set a personal goal that will help you to focus on why you need to get this done. Is it for your children or your family? Are you the first in your family with this opportunity? Even something as simple as getting this degree for yourself can help you push through. Going back to learn—and knowing there is more to learn—helps set yourself up as a lifelong learner, more likely to grow and evolve for the rest of your life.
Set professional goals. Lots of stress comes with a full-time job, let alone a full-time job with added classes and homework. So what’s the benefit? Consider that an advanced degree can increase your salary. It can make you eligible for those job postings you haven’t been able to apply to in the past. It can break you out of your current industry and into a career you are excited about.
Prepare yourself to finish.
Aside from realizing your goals, there are also very practical, logistical things to think about as you work to finish college. For instance, your education style might limit you in where or what kinds of courses you can take. And if you have a busy schedule and can only take courses online, consider what you should know about online classes. Think about the course styles and content are more likely to click with you, and enroll in a program that allows you to learn in a way that suits you best.
Are you ready to pay for it? Make sure you pay as much attention to tuition as you do the program and modality. And always keep in mind the options you have to help fund your education! Many part-time programs, for example, have reduced tuition or scholarships. You could also check with your employer to see whether they offer reimbursement or deferment options, and those in the military are likely to qualify for additional financial benefits. Some evening and weekend programs even provide childcare, if that’s an added cost for you as well.
Go get your degree.
You’ve set your goals. You’ve prepared yourself mentally, emotionally, and financially. You’ve scheduled your time for classes and homework.
Finishing your degree can open up a world of opportunities you don’t already have access to. So…
Are you ready?