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Is it Worth Finishing My Degree? Insights for the Adult Learner

According to the Pew Research Center, only 62% of students finish their degrees within 6 years of starting.

So, if you haven’t finished your degree, you're not alone. We speak to people every day who had to put their education on hold for one reason or another and are thinking about getting back in the classroom to finish what they started.

Of course, this process requires an investment of your time, money, and energy. The journey won’t always be easy and will challenge you every step of the way as you seek to balance your studies with your career, family, and personal obligations.

But here’s what we see time and time again from working adults who’ve gone back to school and finished their bachelor’s degree: it’s always worth it.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of earning a college degree and discover what makes this journey worthwhile.

The Benefits of a College Degree

The benefits of going back to school to complete your degree are substantial. Statistically speaking, finishing your degree will help you get a raise or promotion, enable you to pursue a new career that you aren’t currently qualified for, or reach other meaningful achievements, such as creating a better work/life balance so you can spend more time with your family.

Here are a few more benefits of earning a college degree:

New Career Paths and Opportunities

What is it that’s pushing you toward finishing your degree? Why are you feeling called to get back in the classroom and finish what you started?

For many people, earning their degree helps them to get a scheduled raise, get promoted, or receive some other very deliberate benefit in their company or industry.

Studies show that earning a degree can open you up to new opportunities that offer increased responsibilities and exciting challenges, such as taking on a management position or becoming a senior leader at your company. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but we do know that whatever your career goals are, earning a degree will help you get there.

Job Security and Higher Earning Potential

People with college degrees are more likely to hold their jobs and more likely to be hired if they wish to pursue a new position. The unemployment rate for people with a degree is substantially lower than for those without one.

Furthermore, degree holders enjoy significantly higher earning potential. One study revealed that the lifetime earnings of someone who has a bachelor’s degree are almost double compared to someone with only a high school diploma. Earning a degree opens you up for higher-paying jobs and greatly improves your desirability to potential employers.

Personal Fulfillment

There’s a great deal of fulfillment that comes with earning your degree, especially if this is something you have been sitting on for a long time. It requires hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and being able to tackle new challenges while balancing different aspects of your life.

To push through those challenges and accomplish something great is a wonderfully fulfilling thing and something that can’t be measured.

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How to Finance Your Degree

Part of answering the question, “Is it worth finishing my degree?” comes down to dollars and cents. The benefits are substantial and well-documented, but the value of the degree also depends on what it costs for you to earn it.

What’s really exciting is that there are many forms of financial aid that are specifically available for working adults like you who are returning to school to complete their degrees.


Grants may be given at either the federal or state level based on your field of study, location, financial need, or academic achievement. Unlike many other forms of financial aid, grants do not need to be paid back. Learn more about grants.


Similarly, scholarships are awarded based on financial need or academic merit and do not have to be paid back. If you’re thinking about returning to school, then you will probably want to apply for the Tennessee Hope Scholarship - Nontraditional.

Learn more about that in our blog post, A Quick Guide to Scholarships for Adults in Tennessee.


Unlike grants and scholarships, loans do have to be repaid. However, the interest rates are very low and there are programs in place to ensure that you can pay them back according to your income. For more information, check out our interactive guide: Financing Your Degree: A Guide to Helping Working Adults Afford Their Degree Completion Program.

Credit for Prior Learning

In addition to the forms of financial assistance listed above, you may also qualify for Credit for Prior Learning (CPL). With CPL, you could receive college credit for your life experience if your skills and knowledge adequately match what’s being taught in a specific course. To learn more about CPL and how it works, download our CPL Toolkit.

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Ultimately, the question of whether or not it’s “worth it” is a decision that has to be made based on your unique situation and why you want to finish your degree. Some of the benefits are deeply personal and can’t be measured.

If you have questions about finishing your degree and whether or not it’s the right move for you, schedule an appointment and we’ll walk you through the process and talk about what plan makes the most sense for you.



Request More Information

To learn more about the adult degree completion program, financial aid, admissions, or anything else about Southern, fill out the form below and our team will reach out to you with more information!