Finishing an education can speak volumes on a resume beyond just the program of study.
Earning a degree communicates to employers that an applicant finishes what they start, believes in continued learning and has enough smarts to get through a post-secondary education.
Trina Paras, a mother of four, returned to Salt Lake Community College to finish her education at age 48.
“It’s really hard to have a family, a full-time job, and go to school at the same time,” Paras says. “It’s not impossible, however, it’s much easier to do it without any of the distractions life throws at you.”
According to CNBC, more Americans are going to college than ever before, but that doesn’t mean all of them are graduating with a diploma in hand. Based on the latest trends, 54.8 percent of students nationwide who start in the 2017 fall semester will graduate. The rest — most of them low-income, first-generation, and minority students — will not finish.
“I wish that I wouldn’t have put trivial things in front of education, things like dating boys and going out with girlfriends,” Paras says. “I wish I would’ve made [education] a priority, because going to work and sitting in that chair at a billing department every day is like a five-to-life sentence.”
School can be difficult; even the most motivated students can have second thoughts, wondering if it is worth it. What’s often lost are the doors of opportunity that will open from graduating.
Michael Styles, the deputy director for the State of Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services and a professor of political science at SLCC, says competition is fierce in the job market today, and students should experience as much as they can while they have their independence.
“It’s important to experience one’s own growth period into the person they envision, and to drop out to start a family stunts that growth period that one needs to achieve that self-awareness and vision,” he adds.
Understanding that life tends to get more complicated as one gets older is something that will save a student time and money, and help to increase motivation.
“It’s too difficult in these times to return. Tuition keeps rising, your competition is younger and have already established the routine of study,” Styles says. “Getting back into that routine and the necessary discipline is so challenging.”
Despite the obstacles, Styles is an example of what is possible.
“I dropped out and returned, and by that time, I was married with kids when I got my Masters,” he says. “It was brutal, and I don’t know if I could accomplish this again or if I would even have the motivation or desire.”
Here’s the best advice for success that former college dropouts give:
- Maintain attendance requirements
- Turn off all distractions and just do your assignments
- Keep relationships clear with love interests, family, and friends
- Write down goals and look at them every day
- Create a financial plan and stick with it
- Do not procrastinate
- Be vocal when the going gets rough