Finishing what you started is one way to jump start your job search.  Many millennial's are examples of how life can interrupt while in pursuit of a worthy goal.  You dropped out of college.  Perhaps you intended to return once you dealt with the interruption, but you haven’t.

Now you are searching for a job.  I have good news: College has gotten better both in helping people achieve their educational goals and in the ease of financing the endeavor.  Plus, you’ve gotten smarter about your life goals and can be way more selective in choosing how and when you tackle big challenges.

More good news: your completed classes can still count for something.  You’ll need a transcript from your old school when the time comes to validate your education to date but be forewarned, only C and above courses will count.  Still more good news: any certifications, job skills, training you might have received during the interim could count toward college credits.   If you’ve been in the military, even better because military training has already been evaluated.  All you need do is provide proof of the training for your occupational specialty from your discharge papers to claim what is considered equivalent credit for that training.

Let’s think a moment about what completing a college degree could mean to you.  Whatever you’ve been doing since you dropped out has been a temporary job, not a necessarily a career.  If you decide to stay within that industry, a degree has the potential to increase your rate of pay and qualify you for higher positions.  You will need to tailor your course selections when your resume your studies to reflect your choices.

In many of the trades, a certification/license is often required by the State to work in that industry.  A degree isn’t required but could qualify you for other positions within the industry such as entry level trainee, sales, or management trainee.  The move or promotion after college not just affects your take home pay but also your Social Security compensation after you are retired.

A problem many college dropouts had was paying for their education.  You may have gone into debt and are now paying off a Sallie Mae student loan.  Bad experience made worse: if you finished college and your salary hardly covers your living expenses.  The good news is if you return to college and matriculate, your student loan payments are suspended.  The same government rule applies if you go back for a master’s to fix that income problem.  Some employers are wise to the benefits of an educated workforce and their benefits may include college tuition reimbursement.  Check on the web for free college tuition or how to attend college for free.

Personal story

I was one of those baby-boomer that found life interrupting my education.  Started college, did all right but couldn’t continue.  Judging from the children sired subsequent to my departure, I’d say it was the hormones.  Family needs predicated my working and raising that family.  I felt that was a good choice, but I was not working at my true potential.  Wasn’t even sure what that potential was or could be because I didn’t have that diploma.  I’d read job requirements and realized I was closed out of major sectors of employment without one.  The question was…what was I going to do about it?

Nothing, until I heard about a new program at a local college that gave credit for what you’ve learned on-the-job.  Skills I had, were worth credits.  I still had a problem with my full-time job.  I couldn’t quit and go to school during the day.  Night school was a possibility but then I heard about professional studies programs that don’t require full-time attendance.  I discovered a variety of programs that ranged from weekends to one-hour meetings once a month with a professor who was a mentor.  New York State even allowed you to “bank” college credit in an account where you were tested to prove your knowledge.  I thought I wasn’t that bright to teach myself and elected to try the monthly meetings approach under a professor’s guidance.  That worked great and I even threw in some night courses for more intense guidance.  With the onset of online courses, finishing a degree became even easier.

I had learned how to study during my freshman year before dropping out.  The rigors of study meant knowing when I understood a course, being able to answer questions to demonstrate that knowledge (assigning myself homework), and not get lost as I progressed through a course (being able to explain concepts to myself that made sense).  Home life worked out well, the kids were off doing their things and the wife treated it like I had taken up golfing.  To motivate myself, I grew a beard and swore not to shave it off until I got the degree.  It was a great day when I graduated 20 years after starting college, but I was a different person.  I applied for and got that promotion at work.  Within a year and from the advantage of my new position, I could see a new horizon.  That’s when I started planning for a graduate degree.

The Pledge

I am going to finish my degree!

The above sentence is the pledge.  You are telling yourself that you are going back to finish what you started.  You are committing yourself to endure through the study, strive to achieve the goal, and preserver with the stresses this commitment involves.  The motivation comes from within.

You are not lifting a heavy weight, but you are exercising your mind.  Consider your mind as a muscle that is getting back in shape.  Just like athletes in training, you set goals and dates based on what you think you can achieve.  Before starting I gave myself a trial run picking a task that would take some time and offer me a preview of what I had to do to clear the boards to make room for college.  I discovered I needed to carve out time for re-reading a book on statistics.  Just reading the marginal notes I had written down in the book made me realize a lot of dust had settle and I needed some stretching.  Your trial run should be different.  When I took up running, I picked a local Turkey Trot which was a month away and I needed to go from zero mileage to five miles.  I started with running around the block one time, then two times.  Soon I was jogging out to the one-mile marker on this annual run.

College will provide the sporting arena for you to excel and surpass your expectations.  Write down and post where you can see it, the goal and the date.   Good luck and be compassionate with yourself by allowing yourself to get back up if you fail again.

I'd like to share with you the outcome of one of my pledges.  I went back to the well several times until I was finally awarded a doctoral degree by the President of Pace University, Dr. Marvin Kraslov, in May of 2019.