By Dr. Laura Palmer Noone, CEO, University of the Potomac

When I tell people what University of the Potomacis all about – a school designed for adult students returning to college – they often become a bit self reflective and say something like, “Gee, I wish I could finish college.”  I always respond “You can!  What is stopping you?”  Then the staring at their shoes, and stammering begin.  Honestly, there are very few good excuses and here are some of the worst excuses I have heard.

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  1. I am too old – I would be 40 when I graduated!”  This one always amazes me.  With any luck, you are going to be 40 regardless (or whatever age you will be in 3 or 4 years…) and wouldn’t you rather be 40 with a college degree than be 40 without a degree?  And research shows that mature adults actually have an easier time learning concepts because they have a real world framework to help bridge the gap between the theory and practice.  Let me give you an example –When I took my first class in income taxation, I had never filed a tax return.  If I went back and took that class now, all of those concepts would make a lot more sense to me because I have had to consider things like basis, valuation, etc.
  2. “It is too expensive and I will never recoup the costs of going.”  Going to college can be expensive if you don’t choose the right place and the right major (see my prior posts).  But many working adults also have access to some educational assistance benefits through their employer.  Check out what benefits you may have available to you.  Your other option is to take out loans and as I have cautioned in other posts, be careful not to over borrow.  You do have to pay those loans back.  But the good news is if you choose a degree in a high demand field, you have a very good chance of recouping the costs and a lot more.  Research shows that people with a bachelor’s degree earn nearly a one million dollar life time premium over the person with only a high school degree.  There are no guarantees, but having a degree will rarely have negative impact on your employability or earnings potential.
  3. “I don’t have the time.” Come on, really?  Many colleges today offer evening and weekend programs (as does Potomac) and if you start looking at your calendar, I bet you can organize yourself around one of those schedules.  You also have the opportunity to go online and you pick the hours that you want to attend class rather than having a set schedule.
  4.  “I hated math in high school – I couldn’t possibly pass statistics.”  If I had a nickel for every time I heard this one!  First, there will be lots of people right there with you not liking math, but you may find as an adult you actually understand more math because you have used practical applications of math in your life.  And secondly, statistics isn’t all about math.  It is about some really interesting concepts like probability.  Give yourself a chance and you might just find out you like it.
  5.  I don’t want to be the oldest person in class – I would feel stupid sitting next to some 18 year old.  Good news again – the overwhelming majority of people in college classrooms today aren’t the 18 year old fresh out of high school and living in a dorm – in fact that population is one of the smallest groups in higher education.  And if you attend a college like Potomac, your classmates are going to be a lot like you – a working adult with family and career to balance but with the drive to get that long elusive degree.

So what is your excuse?  If you have a really good excuse or a really dumb one, post it here!