Adult students who prove finishing college is worth it
There are many reasons why students pause their higher education once or several times before finishing college. Sometimes, school has to be put on the back burner so you can attend to other priorities like raising a family, healing from grief and loss, caring for a loved one, resting to prevent burnout, moving or saving money.
Dropping out or taking a break shouldn’t be a source of shame but rather an opportunity to define what you really want and return to the classroom with more focus and determination. Only you can decide if going back to school is the right choice, but it can be encouraging to hear from other people who have lived similar experiences. Keep reading to learn more about two UMass Global graduates who prove that going back to school is worth it.
Finding the perfect fit after a few detours
Latania Bingham’s path to finishing college took several unexpected twists and turns. Her first higher ed experience started in 2010 when she was just out of high school. As a freshman at St. Joseph’s College in New York, she had declared a pre-med major but soon discovered that going to medical school was an expectation that others had put on her, not something she actually wanted for herself.
Bingham withdrew from classes and spent the next few years working in retail and living in several different states, though college was always in the back of her mind. “My excuse for not going back to college was that I didn’t want to take on debt,” she explains. Yet she had never stopped wanting to complete her degree.
In 2017, she enrolled part-time at the University of Central Florida, but she soon dropped out to pursue a radically different phase of her life. Bingham felt she had gotten complacent, recalling that, “My life was like a revolving door at the time. I was good at my job but I wasn’t pushing myself enough — when things got hard, I would just dip.”
She decided to join the U.S. Army. “It was a way to meet my full potential. I knew I couldn’t just walk away because there would be consequences,” she recalls.
By 2020, Bingham was stationed in Washington state, well-established in her service role and ready to try school again. Using GI Bill tuition benefits for active-duty military members, she applied to a nearby UMass Global campus with plans of finishing college once and for all.
“My advisor was just awesome. He took the time to explain my options, helped me customize my classes and organized things in a way that made it easy for me,” she says. “As a former service member himself, he understood how hard it is to balance army, work and school.”
[My advisor] was really there for me every step of the way. Even when I took a year off, he was always checking in and actively engaged.
In May 2022, Bingham graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Studies. Although she was deployed to South Korea at the time and couldn’t attend the in-person ceremony, it didn’t lessen her sense of pride over her accomplishment.
With diploma in hand, Bingham is now able to tackle her next goal: completing a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship at UMass Global. Ultimately, she plans to use her education to start her own company after the army.
A motivated mother finishes her degree
Like many UMass Global graduates, Jordan Tibbits began her higher education journey at a local community college. Money was a big concern, so she worked and studied part-time for three years. Without warning, a school counselor informed her that due to program changes, it would take her two more years to finish an associate degree.
Understandably frustrated, Tibbits began looking for a different option and found the perfect match in UMass Global. She already knew she liked working with kids and wanted to become an advocate for their needs.
“When I discovered it would only take me two years to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a social work emphasis, I knew I had to make the change,” Tibbits says.
With financial help from her grandparents, she was able to start studying full-time at UMass Global. Very soon after she transferred colleges, she found out about another important reason to finish her degree: she and her husband were expecting their first child.
“I got pregnant very young. I was in my first year at UMass Global,” she shares. “I knew higher education would be how I was going to create a better life for my growing family.”
Juggling work, school and new motherhood wasn’t easy, but Tibbits says her children were her biggest motivator. “I stayed home and cared for them during the day until my husband came home from work,” she says. “Then I would go to my job in the evening, come home and study while everyone was sleeping.”
But Tibbits found a way through, finishing college just two months after having her second child. As she proudly recounts,
It was one of my greatest joys to have my kids at my graduation because obtaining my degree was something I had done for them and their future.
She began working for a school district and shortly discovered school counseling was her calling. “I love working with youth and assisting them to find their passions and what their next steps forward might be. That’s what prompted me to begin a Master of Arts in School Counseling with a PPS credential at UMass Global.”
Tibbits credits her undergrad program for helping prepare her to succeed. “It’s given me so much hands-on experience, especially everyday situations working at a school or speaking with youth in the community. It’s gifted me with life skills I can apply to any situation, not just school counseling.”
Finish what you started at UMass Global
The stories above are just two examples of how finishing college can change your life for the better. UMass Global caters to the needs of adult learners to help them overcome common obstacles on their path to graduation.
Not sure if you’re ready to continue on your higher education journey? Check out our article “6 Signs that now is the right time to finish your degree.”
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