Featured Opinion & Editorial

Finishing Your Degree: How to Begin in a Few Easy Steps

Finishing Your Degree

If you’re considering returning to school to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree, the decision can be particularly overwhelming at the beginning of a new year. Perhaps you’re looking to bolster your professional options, complete the challenge of acquiring a degree or expand your horizons with personal enrichment.

For people seeking continuing and professional education in the St. Louis area, our programs provide a swath of academic paths that set up students for extraordinary possibilities. Those who need additional education for a career change or who haven’t finished their degree are often are met with a number of practical reasons that prevent them from taking the first step. Perhaps they don’t have the time, the money, or all the answers to their questions, so they don’t think they are ready to begin. However, our highly knowledgeable professionals, advisors, and administrators were able to offer practical solutions and answers.

How do I balance it all? With flexible degree options for personal and professional enrichment.

It’s no secret that a bachelor’s or master’s degree can bring about professional advancement for students. But in the 21st century, flexible degree program options mean a full-time job does not disqualify you from achieving your educational goals.

Moreover, many institutions of higher education offer programs and courses that are intended for students who work full-time, designed for busy, working adults who are looking to explore new interests or increase business prowess and earning power. For example, maybe you’re looking for a bachelor’s degree in political science for an eventual career in government, or in biology to apply for medical school. Maybe it’s a master’s degree in your field that will fast-track your path to success, with an advanced degree in education, liberal arts or international affairs. All of these and more are possible to pursue at the WashU School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS) while continuing to work.

Courses are taught by renowned university professors and industry professionals who provide students with both academic challenges and a supportive learning environment. “Life is not easy, so you must anticipate a bump or two along your journey to getting your degree. Just keep your focus and keep moving forward!” says George Winston, director of admissions at CAPS. This year, you’ll be able to keep your self-improvement resolutions and see the impact of a degree on your personal journey.

How do I begin? Meet with an advisor.

Once you’ve made the decision to explore higher-education options, next comes the question of how to begin. To examine the kinds of programs available, financing options and professional paths for graduates, it is important to meet with an advisor.

“I would advise any student planning to finish a degree to meet with an advisor on their campus and make a plan to apply, enroll and complete the courses needed,” says Elisa Wang, academic advisor and coordinator of student services at CAPS. “I also advise students not to take on too many classes, especially when they start a new program – part-time study can be much more successful for busy adults.”

Advisors help students discover new academic and professional paths, with tailored meetings specifically aimed to meet the goals of each student. Perhaps you aren’t sure how to finance your degree, have credits from another institution, or are looking to transfer to a specific program and don’t yet know how. For example, CAPS has several options available to students in terms of financing your education, including merit-based scholarships, financial aid at the federal, state or local level, benefits for veterans and more. 

This is the beauty of an advising meeting: the answers you’ll receive will provide clarity to any preliminary questions you may have when it comes to achieving your degree. It is often this lack of answers that prevent prospective students from further exploration of higher-education options in the first place.

How do I plan for my program?

Once you have the initial questions out of the way, it’s time to plan. Many universities have options available for students to work on degree programs in the midst of a busy life, which often includes a full-time job, parenthood or other time constrictions, and we provide some of the most flexible options available.

As the University’s flagship program for accommodating busy adults, our degree programs include evening courses taught in an environment focused on shared learning and personal growth for each student.

Depending on your program, you may very well end up applying the concepts you’ve learned in your course work in class the next day.

Since many professors are industry professionals, they impart intellectual and academic concepts from a practical vantage point, which gives students the benefit of authentic learning from contemporary industry. This kind of teaching strategy is one of the many reasons why graduates are attractive to employers.

As we mentioned earlier, a visit with one of our advisors can also help you review the financial aid and scholarship options available to help you finance your degree.

Why not? The time to explore is now.

While the new year can galvanize us to take clear action steps, perhaps you just needed one last push. We can assure you won’t regret exploring the many options available that will help you reach your professional and academic goals. We know it sounds daunting, but with the university’s support and guidance, we also know that it is possible for you to reach your higher education goals. The time to explore is now.

Interested in our offerings?

We’re here for you every step of the way. Explore our degree programs or take a course without applying to a program to decide if the School of Continuing & Professional Studies is right for you.