Time to (Finally) Finish College

Ten years and four children after her last class at Maranatha, Shera O’Neal was still determined to finish college someday.

“I knew it would be hard, but I never gave it (not finishing) a thought,” O’Neal said.

The 30-year-old mom/substitute teacher/tutor/volleyball coach/bookkeeper from Dallas will soon have several full-time career options available to her, thanks to determination and Maranatha Online’s degree completion program. O’Neal said she should complete her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies degree during the summer or fall of 2012.

“I loved Maranatha when I was there, and I was thrilled when they started this online program,” O’Neal said. “I was going to finish, no matter what.”

The degree completion program is designed for a growing segment of the student population nationwide—adults who started college, but did not finish.

“When we began exploring this option, we found that this is the fastest growing type of degree field in the country,” said Dr. John Brock, Maranatha Vice President for Academic Affairs. “We needed to ask ourselves the question, ‘What do we have to offer working adults?’ ”

Maranatha now offers working adults a program that can help them complete their bachelor’s degree in two years or less.

“The savings and convenience of this program are both tremendous,” Brock said.

There are many reasons young people drop out of college— finances, marriage, family issues, career opportunities. Occupational and family responsibilities sometimes make returning to traditional college impossible.

The explosion of distance learning options like Maranatha Online have made going back to school a more practical option for many.

Robert Holmes attended Maranatha for two years before dropping out. He decided to finish his degree 30 years after he began, even when his business transferred Holmes to its office in Shanghai, China.

“I was able to continue my online courses without missing a beat,” Holmes said. “I have a two-hour one-way commute every day, so I can do 90 percent of my studying in the car (while someone else drives). I have been blessed in many ways by my heavenly Father, but this is a huge one.”

The Interdisciplinary Studies degree can help further careers that require a bachelor’s degree or open the door to more than 7,000 specialized graduate school programs.

Those enrolling in the program must be 25 or older and must have completed at least 60 college credits with a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average.

Enrollment in the degree completion program has more than doubled in the last year. “A lot of people come to a point where they realize there are many years of productive adult life ahead of them, and they want to make the most of that time,” Brock said. “This is the degree they want.”