Adult student looking to return to college to complete degree

You have 50 credits. An associate’s degree is 60, right? Can you just finish with 10 more credits?

Another option is to find internships or volunteer and then apply for work. You can put down “some college” as it is. Not sure an associate’s will do that much.

If I were you I would look into some of the vocational programs at community college, with direct entry to jobs. Some of them are very competitive so you could do what @roycroftmom suggested and take one class and do really well.

You have mentioned CRT several times. If you are a white male, you can still get a job with proper training.

FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
FAFSA is an application provided by the Federal Government to indicate if a student qualifies for Federal assistance via limited loans and grants. No FAFSA dollars after the BS.

The application is then submitted to colleges and universities which distribute the funds dispersed by the government. The uni’s add their need-based funds or merit dollars to a student’s financial aid package.

The colleges and universities don’t scheme to take your dollars. They follow the hoops set out by the government.

They don’t “shaft” students because, not only would there be “hell to pay”, but their budgets are required to be clear to the government, or they risk losing their entire government funding for the whole college. Transfers receive minimal funding because they just don’t reserve their major funds for transfers.

I personally don’t think you should return to school until you figure out what you want to do. You’re in your 40’s and you still don’t have a goal. Why waste your time at school? Work anywhere and build up your health insurance fees. Those aren’t covered by the colleges.

What would you do with a biology degree? There are hundreds of thousands of students, with bio degrees, who didn’t get into med school; what would you do with it?
Real Estate
The real estate friends whom I know all have Bachelor’s degrees. One friend majored in Interior Design. She has done really well because she knows architecture, spacing and color. She advises her appreciative clients on quick and minor inexpensive changes to garner more dollars for their homes. Another friend was my son’s high school classmate, “Ryan”. He majored in statistics and was a baseball recruit. He idolized Billy Beane and learned numbers, trends, and is very good with the math. Each has her/his own office. Ryan is very young and has a large staff who are much older than he is. He is always working; he probably puts in 80 hours per week. He has to have a team that will work with his ideas.
Business Degree? What specialty?

I’m going to be blunt: I also think you should lose some of that elitism and that chip on your shoulder. A huge part of getting a degree is doing the mundane, busy work that is required.

Just because you have 50 credits, does not mean that you should expect that everyone will accept them. Information is CONSTANTLY changing and you may be out of the loop with current trends, so you may be required to retake old courses.

I am not surprised that you were not accepted into Baruch because it was a Masters Program. There is always a hierarchy of requirements. For my Masters program, I was required to submit GRE scores, LOR’s from my professors, internship experiences and my Bachelor’s GPA. All of that busy work adds up.
I grew up dirt poor. I worked three jobs during my college years and had a used bike frame I bought at the Salvation Army. My brothers fixed the bike for me with used tires and I biked to all three of my jobs. One job was cleaning “Richie Riches” dorm rooms. Cleaning dried vomit is not fun. I did what I had to do. Yes, it took me longer to finish my degrees and I had to take loans, but I did it. If you ever want to get out of this “basement” you’ve created, start doing for yourself by limiting the complaints and increasing your drive. You are running out of time to pick a career.

You said you self-studied. Did you know that a number of universities admissions committees do not recommend self-study for admission purposes?
AP high school students seem to think that if they self-study and take the tests, that a high score will get them in. (You are two decades removed from that. Maybe that’s where you became confused about your chance to get into the most Elite universities in the world). The universities want to see GRADES (strong grades) and how students interact with classmates and the teachers.

Also, would you be willing to work for someone who is younger than you? Someone who has more experience than you in their field may have to supervise you.

Change the 'tude and go in wide-eyed for the new knowledge adventure. Be grateful that you are in good health and mentally strong.


I’ll add one more- YOU. You are the roadblock.

You have clearly survived lots of challenging situations- which is fantastic- and your drive and desire to learn is so commendable. But if you get frustrated at the kind of administrative hoops you need to jump through to get back on track in college, you are going to find the working world- even in a well paid, professional role, absolutely maddening. Your expense report is due by Tuesday noon, so your expense check can be in next week’s paycheck. Your status report is due midnight Sunday, and if your boss has any corrections, you need to resubmit by Tuesday midnight.

This is the working world. Calling administrators incompetent doesn’t help you plead your case, and every organization with more than 20 people in it is going to have bureaucracy. That’s how the bills get paid, the checks go out, and the lights stay on. A college with thousands of students HAS to have some bureaucracy- otherwise, everyone does whatever the heck they want when they want to and the place falls apart.

So drop the attitude. Then-- drop the negativity around CRT, why you can’t get a job at Whole Foods, etc. Start fresh.

There are lots of jobs where they literally do not care what you major in. Hospitality/Hotel/Cruise/Theme Park- they all have management training programs. Get a BA, work on your “story”, there you go. Construction, Real Estate Development- you’ll need to show some analytical/quantitative skills, but these are not elitist fields where they are going to care where your degree is from as long as you show spunk and a work ethic.

It is VERY difficult to get traction these days without a BA. Unless you go for a certificate type program-- radiology assistant, phlebotomy, dental hygiene- you are likely going to get locked in to entry level type jobs without advancement opportunities.

Look at University of Southern New Hampshire. It was a pioneer in “low residency” colleges, worth spending time with an admissions officer there to review your transcript, find out how many courses you’d need, what the cost would be, what kind of financial aid you might be eligible for.


How do I select the college that best fits my criteria?
When finances matter, that’s the main criteria that has to be met. It sounds like you might need an online program, so see if any of the CUNY or SUNY schools offer an online degree. I know some of the SUNY community colleges were offering computer science online even before Covid. They probably offer other programs online too.

How do I select the right major? How do I get excellent college guidance?
Make an appointment to talk to someone in the academic advising office at the schools you’re interested in attending. I’d start with one of the CUNY schools since they’re nearby. Ask how many of your credits transfer and how many you need to get a degree.

What are my expectations for getting a diploma?
A lot will depend on you. You wouldn’t be the only adult student in class, but you have to focus. I think a lot of your roadblocks are based on your attitude about life in general and college in particular. It sounds like you love education which is great, but you seem to expect an elite education on a community college budget. I think you need to try to make allowances for people. I don’t think they’re trying to “shaft” you or sabotage your studies. Community colleges and small state schools just don’t have the same resources as the large universities and elite LACs.

Can an Associates degree open up many doors?
I think it depends on the major you choose. That’s why it’s important to speak with an academic advisor.

Will FASFA/Pell grants pay for all of my credit hours to get a Bachelors?
No. The federal Pell grant is a need based grant. The maximum dollar amount is about $3,000 per semester ($6,000 per year), but that’s only if your EFC is 0000. The closer your EFC is to 6000, the less you get. If your EFC is greater than 6000 you wouldn’t get any Pell. Pell is awarded for up to 12 semesters (6 years). When you hit the maximum you won’t get anymore.

Does FASFA stop giving funds after a student completes their Associates or Bachelors?
FAFSA is the financial aid application you fill out to apply for the Pell grant. The money comes from the federal government. If you’re eligible based on your finances you can get it for up to 12 semesters or until you get your bachelor’s degree.

By filing the FAFSA you may be eligible for the federal student loan. If you attended 2 years of college then it sounds like you’ll be able to borrow $7500/year for 2 years. If you’re low income, be careful about how much you borrow.

There’s a link for the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) at the end of the FAFSA application or you can go to the HESC website to get it. You should complete that to see if you’re eligible for a grant from NYS.

What are some examples of a college goal? Is Liberal Arts a useless career direction for me? Can I keep on a Liberal Arts path and major in management or business?
Talk to an academic advisor. In my opinion, choosing a major for an associate’s degree that will allow you to get steady work right away is your best option. You can work on a bachelor’s from there.

Is it possible to get traction on a decent career without a Bachelors degree?
There are some 2-year degrees that lead to jobs. I think they’re more vocational jobs though like IT or nurse’s aide (maybe LPNs if they still have them).

How can I estimate my return on investment?
Pick a major that will allow you to get a job. The return I’d be aiming for would be steady employment.

How can I get a clear timeline for how long it will take to get an Associates degree or a Bachelors degree?
Talk to an academic advisor at one of the schools you’d like to attend. They can tell you what credits they’ll take and what you need to complete to get a degree.

How do adult students afford to attend college full time without any income?
They can’t. Most adult students work full-time and attend college part-time as they can afford it.

How will I pay rent and eat when I attend college?
You’ll have to work. Even if you got a NYS TAP grant, a federal Pell grant, and the federal student loan you still wouldn’t have enough to live on.

How do I find the right college that has internships?
Check with each school’s advising office to see what’s available.

And furthermore, how can I identify internship opportunities that are likely to block me from gaining entry? (So I can avoid them in advance)
Why do you think internship programs are going to “block you” from entry? Programs that get federal funds aren’t allowed to discriminate. Attitude matters a lot, and I think you could stand to be a little more positive. So far you’ve mentioned race, nationality, and the ability to read. If you’re not getting the opportunities you think you deserve it may have something to do with the way you come across to people. When you get to school make an appointment at the Career Development Office. They can help you practice interviews and give you tips for writing your resume too.


You don’t disclose what you have been doing for the last 20 years, nor why you live in one of the most expensive places in the country and how you support yourself there. FWIW, I would move to a low cost area of the state, get an entry level job at Walmart or similar, then use their educational benefits to get a degree and work your way into managing a store. To do so you would need to show maturity, work ethic and ability to get along with people.


I want to thank everyone again for their help! If I only I knew to post my dilemma here at CC much sooner! Each of your inputs here have helped to unravel and ease my predicament.

Yesterday I applied at three colleges and I am still conducting due diligence to decide which one is best for me. Thank you again everyone.


Whichever happens FIRST. In other words, if you hit the equivalent of 12 semesters of Pell eligibility and don’t have your bachelors, you won’t continue to get Pell money.

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