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5 Common Regrets About Not Finishing Your Degree

Online universities offer the choice and flexibility to put a college degree within reach the second time around.

“I accidentally forgot to graduate from college,” author Anne Lamott said in a commencement ceremony address to a California university graduating class. “I meant to … but things got away from me.”1

Lamott’s is a humorous take on what happens to many men and women on their way to a college degree. While the majority of students complete their postsecondary education in a linear fashion, more than a third do not. Of the students who started college in the fall of 2012, 58% had earned a degree six years later.2 If you’re among those who left higher education prior to degree completion, you know that there are many things that can come between students and their college degrees: family obligations, job responsibilities, financial concerns, health issues, and just bad timing, to name a few.

5 Common Regrets About Not Finishing Your Degree

Just because you set college aside doesn’t mean you’ve given up. But for many people with unfinished degrees, memories of their college education have turned into regrets. Do any of these sound familiar? If so, check out the remedies and remember—it’s never too late to earn a degree online:

Regret No. 1: I’ve Lost Valuable College Credits

Remedy: Adult learners often are able to receive credit for college courses they completed previously. Military service and other relevant experience may also count toward bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree programs. Check with the admissions office at your accredited online college to find out how your past may give you a boost to your future.

Regret No. 2: I’ve Missed Out on Career Opportunities

Remedy: While a college education doesn’t come with a guarantee of success, it does come with a diploma that can serve as an admission ticket into your chosen career. And studies show that the better educated you are, the better your chances of employment are. In 2017, the unemployment rate for men and women with bachelor’s degrees was 2.2%, compared to 4.1% for high school diploma holders. For workers with a master’s degree, the unemployment rate dropped to 2.1%, and then to 1.6% for doctoral degree holders. Earnings also followed this trend. Median usual weekly earnings were $1,156 for those with bachelor’s degrees, compared to $692 for high school diploma holders. Earnings at the master’s degree level were $1,434, and at the doctoral degree level, $1,825.3 Pick a degree program to enhance your career or find one that propels you into a brand-new field of study.

Regret No. 3: I Spent the Money I’d Saved for College

Remedy: There are many ways to fund your degree; it’s just a matter of finding the one that best suits your goals and budget. In addition to scholarships for college students, options include federal student aid, grants, and loans. Many students defray up to 100% of their tuition and fees through Federal Direct Loans. Information is at your fingertips on your online university’s financial aid portal. Good colleges employ top-notch enrollment and financial aid advisors to guide students through this process. Each degree program at an accredited online college should include information on the estimated cost of tuition, and a net price calculator is a handy tool to assist you in determining the cost to earn a degree online.

Regret No. 4: I Lost Connections With College Peers

Remedy: From the start of your degree program to beyond graduation, online universities can connect you with a global community of students, faculty, mentors, and advisors. Your peer group is as close as your laptop and as current as the roster of students in your online classes. Walden University’s flexible and convenient online learning platform promotes student collaboration and the lively exchange of ideas and points of view. Students gather in online study groups, meet on discussion boards, and check in on Facebook. These valuable exchanges of information and experience can help create lifelong bonds.

Regret No. 5: I Feel Like I Failed

Remedy: A college career is a journey that can be filled with starts and stops. Minnesota native Dian V.’s bachelor’s degree in education was 11 years in the making. “Early on, college didn’t have much value to me. I went because my parents wanted me to,” she said. She worked and traveled, and took classes from time to time, finally coming to the realization that “you had to have a degree to get any kind of good job. I was ready. I said, ‘I want to do this.’ And I got great grades. That’s the advantage of being older. You have worldly wisdom that you didn’t have a clue about when you were a freshman. I learned a lot by quitting. When I was ready, I finished my degree in a year and a half.”

So, what’s stopping you? Forget regret—the life experience you’ve gained since your last college experience has better prepared you for higher education. Now is your time. Earn your degree and with a diploma in hand, get ready to rocket to new interests and career opportunities.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs along with a variety of graduate certificates. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,