It’s easy to admire (and envy) people who complete their PhD’s by the time they turn 30, but for many of us, the responsibilities of daily life get in the way of completing our educational goals. The good news is that it’s not too late to go back to school and finish the degree you started.
1. It’s never too late
Although many degree programs list a time limit for completing a degree, it’s worthwhile to ask if you can still graduate after that time limit has expired. Universities benefit from advertising a high graduation rate, so they’re motivated to help you find a way to finish. Professors may only be familiar with the general guidelines for graduation, so be sure to check with the office that processes degree requirements.
2. Increase your employment opportunities
In today’s competitive job market, employers are looking for employees who can fill a number of roles in the workplace. Regardless of your area of study, consider taking a course in web design or technical writing. These skills are considered an asset in most jobs.
3. Finding funding is easier than you think
Although many college students are graduating with more student loan debt than ever before, returning college students have access to greater funding opportunities. Many employers offer tuition assistance programs, and there are grants and scholarships available specifically for students who are returning to school after an absence. The government website www.students.gov is a good place to start.
4. You can apply what you already know
Whether you left your degree program to raise a family, work, or any other reason, you can apply what you’ve learned since you left to your studies. For example, when I left my master’s program, I worked for a community non-profit that served survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. While these issues may seem more relevant to a degree in Women’s Studies or Psychology, I found faculty in my department that were interested in issues affecting women, and I was able to draw from what I learned through work experience as I wrote the papers I needed to complete my degree.
5. Open doors
Even if your degree doesn’t seem relevant to your current job, you never know what possibilities you may encounter by going back to school. Combining work or life experience with a degree can qualify you for new career opportunities. For example, many jobs in higher education require a graduate degree but don’t prefer one area of study over another.
6. The satisfaction of finishing
There’s no greater satisfaction than finishing a project. When your university hands you your diploma, take a minute to congratulate yourself. You did it!