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Finish Your Degree Online [4 Important Steps for Success]

smiling woman in graduation cap and robe, graduating with degree online

Going back to school to finish your degree online can create future opportunities. Completing your program expands your knowledge, and can boost your professional network. Most importantly, graduating can help you land your dream job or secure a long-awaited promotion.

In fact, according to Education Data, degree completers make a 48.4% higher income than learners who haven’t completed their degree.

We all know, though, that anything worth having doesn’t come easy. It also bears consideration that 39 million Americans have stopped or paused their degree or credential, as of July 2020.

For most of these learners, it was simply a matter of shifting priorities like

If any of these shifts apply to your situation, you’re not alone.


There’s hope for successfully finishing your degree online

According to US News, more than 60% of students who re-enrolled in the 2019-2020 academic year “either persevered into the second year or attained a credential within a year of re-enrolling.” Returning learners can overcome obstacles to graduation. To be successful, you need a clear goal, a plan, and ongoing support.

Let’s talk about how you can make graduation a reality for you.


Create a financial plan through graduation

First things first. Check with your last college or university to see if you have any outstanding balance owed. Doing this helps you to create a clear and accurate financial plan to graduate. A balance can keep you from getting your official transcripts. Every school you’re thinking of transferring to will need them.

Second, do your tuition research. Compare the tuition rates and payment resources available to pay for your tuition. After applying to CityU, you’re immediately paired with a Financial Advisor. Their sole role is to help you with financial plans for your first quarter and beyond.

In your conversations, you’ll likely cover options like

  1. Financial aid eligibility to see if you qualify for grants and/or loans.
  2. Scholarship opportunities, both internal and external.
  3. Employer partnerships or benefits offered by your employer.
  4. Veteran and active duty military benefits.
  5. Other options for minimizing cost and time to complete.

Read more: Afraid of student debt? Here’s how to make sure you’re all set with federal student loans


Identify transfer credits and time to complete your program online

When applying, your school of interest can give you an estimate of how much you have left to graduate. (And, in some cases, you can get this estimate even before applying). This information will help when comparing your online college choices.

Some options that can speed up your time to finish your online degree are

Once you apply, it’s best to keep in close contact with your Enrollment and Academic Advisors. They will help you make the best course decisions from your very first quarter to graduation. It’s nice to have a full academic plan you can follow along with to make sure you’re on the right track.


Use available resources provided by the university

Leaning on support is a huge determining factor to your success in college. So, identify your university’s resources early, and revisit them often. For courses that you know might be a little tougher for you, get tutoring earlier in the quarter rather than later.

Resources that are beneficial to academic and career success are


Ask for help when personal challenges arise

It’s inevitable to experience challenges while you’re finishing your degree online. The best plan of action is to have a plan. What will you do when the challenge comes? How will you react? What will it benefit you to push through? Or take that break? Who will you lean on?

Then, when something challenging comes up, be open with your Academic Advisor. (Details aren’t required if sharing them is uncomfortable). But the more you do share, the better your Advisor can support you with what you might need to overcome.

Remember that asking for help shows strength and courage, and will help you reach your goal: graduation.


To sum it up

Coming back to school might not be comfortable at first. But once you’ve identified your clear goal and made a solid plan, you’ll be walking across the stage before you know it.

CityU specializes in helping learners with some college finish their degrees. We’re proud of our over 60K alumni, working in major corporations in leadership positions. For 50 years, we’ve met students where they are, helping them reach their academic and career goals.

Learn more about how you can finish your degree with CityU.

Britney Taylor
Britney Taylor, Reengagement & Content Specialist
Having studied and worked in higher education for over a decade, Britney has gained a strong passion for empowering students toward graduation. Originally from SoCal, she’s currently living and working remotely in Atlanta. You can likely catch her at a spin class or watching the latest episode of 90 Day Fiancé.
Published August 18, 2023