Did you drop out of school? You aren't alone--not by a long shot. Many adults are in that very situation, and now they are choosing to go back to school to earn their degrees. Some of them needed to drop out of school for a job or to raise a family. Others might not have had the funds to continue on their educational path. But over the years, things change. Are you one of those ambitious students ready to go back and get that degree? Start 2011 off the right way; start working toward a better life.
According to the New York Times, almost 70 percent of high school students enroll in college within two years of their graduation. However, only 57 percent of those in bachelor's degree programs graduate within six years. Fewer than 25 percent of those who attend community college in search of an associate degree actually complete the program within three years.
Now is when you need that degree. According to a report by Financial Newsline, up to 35 percent of all new job growth will require a college degree. A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that higher degree attainment has a direct correlation with higher income, and in most cases, lower unemployment rates. In short, a degree now equals good job security in the future.
Make accelerated degrees work for you
Accelerated degrees are a good way to jump back into the college experience. These degrees offer coursework that builds on your prior knowledge and expands your understanding of the field. The courses are often taken one after another, without a break in between, and can be fast-tracked into a shorter period of time than the traditional college courses.
With an accelerated degree, you could earn your bachelor's degree in as little as 18 months, depending upon the field of study and the college you choose. Fast-track master's degree programs can take as little as three years to complete.
Degree-completion programs pick up where you left off
If you went through several years of college and have a few classes left to complete your degree, degree-completion programs can help you get to the finish line. These programs take into account the credits you have already attained and offer a way to complete the remainder of your requirements in a short period of time. Degree completion programs can allow you to work at your own pace while juggling your obligations to work and family.
Can you get credit for life experience?
You've done a lot of growing and learning since you dropped out of school. Does all that real-world education account for something? For most college degree programs, the answer is a resounding "yes". Credit for life experience can further your education in many ways:
- Complete a portfolio. If you have extensive experience that mirrors what you would learn in a certain class, a written portfolio of essays and other materials can help you prove your knowledge of a particular subject. The portfolio can include certificates of achievement as well as letters from employers, colleagues and the like, stating the depth of your expertise in your chosen field. If you can prove a rich knowledge, you might be able to use that knowledge as college credit.
- Test out of a subject. The College Level Examination Program, or CLEP, offers testing in many areas of study, including English, mathematics, history, humanities, natural science and social science. There are also more specific CLEP exams that allow you to "test out" of certain courses with a passing grade. Vocational schools offer assessments that help students test out of certain fields they already understand. For those who have served in the military, the Defense Activity for Nontraditional Educational Support, or DANTES, allows a student to test out of some introductory college courses.
Where to begin when it's time to go back to school
When you're ready to jump back into the college world, a good launching pad can be a great help. Fortunately, the United States is ready to help those who want to help themselves. In May of 2009, President Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative, calling for five million more college graduates by 2020. Charitable organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are pledging millions to help bolster college programs in the hopes of producing more graduates.
Restart your college experience by looking into degree programs that suit your area of expertise or interest. Look specifically for accelerated degrees that offer credit for life experience. You've worked hard to create a good life--now is the time to take it even further by earning that degree.