Competitive Advantage

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Competitive Advantage

Delivering Tips, Insights and Resources for Success

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How to Overcome the Challenges of Returning and Completing a Degree


Completing a college degree can be a crucial step toward success. Having a degree is often a prerequisite to applying for jobs. Many adults who started a degree but didn’t finish it would like to return to finish but find the process of getting started to be challenging.

Returning to college as an adult to finish a degree is a very different experience than starting college as a recent high school graduate. The thought of managing the application and registration process and schoolwork as an independent adult may feel overwhelming. You may fear that the college environment will feel isolated as you make your way back to school. Well, that can be an experience common for adults who have taken time off before returning to finish a degree.  

Luckily, the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) Program was founded to help adult learners in Mississippi get the support they need to return to college and finish their degrees.

The Challenge of Going At It Alone

Most college freshmen are coming to the experience with a support network at their disposal. They are better positioned to succeed in college: their study skills are current, most have few outside responsibilities, and the people around them are more likely to be invested in their success.

Returning adult students may have supportive families and friends to cheer them along. However, they also have many outside responsibilities that require time, money, and attention. They have a variety of financial considerations that might not apply to younger adults going to college for the first time. Adults trying to return to school also lack access to the academic advising needed to make the most of their earned credits.

Navigating College Without Guidance

Unlike first-time college students, most adults returning to school don’t have access to a professional who can help them with researching majors or degree options, completing the necessary paperwork, and identifying the financial aid to help pay for tuition. Even if returning adults can find an independent college application advisor, they may charge hefty fees for their valuable services.

Juggling Different Hats

Adults returning to college are in a different place in life than most traditional college freshmen. Adult learners are often balancing other responsibilities and may be the primary breadwinner for their families. Jobs, children, care for aging relatives, and other day-to-day activities can all compete with schoolwork for attention. 

Students who go to college directly from high school may have the luxury of making choices without impacting others. They can make decisions and allocate their time more freely, like spending the day cramming for a test or completing an assignment. Adult learners don’t have the same freedom and often must prioritize what’s best for their families and work. 

Finding Peer Support and Connection

Let’s face it — social life is a major part of the college experience. Not only is interacting with peers a lot of fun for students, but it also provides a built-in support network on campus. Students benefit from the encouragement and support of other students. Study groups, brainstorming sessions, and comparing notes about classes and professors can improve learning and provide valuable perspectives during college. Full-time students are surrounded by people who really get what they’re going through at school.

Adults who are returning to school don’t have the same built-in peer support network. They aren’t living in a dorm on campus, and they won’t be eating all their meals in the dining hall. They are older than their classmates and may not feel like they don’t have much in common. They also may not have time for study groups and social activities due to work and family responsibilities. If they’re studying on a virtual platform, they may never meet their classmates in person. Even if they are attending a big university, they may feel like they’re studying all alone.

How Does C2C Help?

When high school students have questions about selecting and applying to a college, there are teachers and guidance counselors available to provide them with answers. Some high schools have entire departments dedicated to helping students apply to college. High school staff not only teach students coursework and study skills but also help them learn about different schools and degree options, choose a prospective major, and apply for scholarships and other financial aid. 

Adult learners returning to school can also benefit from all those services — this is where C2C comes in. The C2C Program was designed to offer support in degree planning based on your existing credits and college and career goals. Their mission is to provide college counseling resources that accommodate the unique needs of adult learners.

C2C can help adults find the shortest path to the degree that meets their goals and in many cases even provide help to finding on-campus childcare so their kids are cared for while they go to class. Every returning adult works with a C2C Coach, who gets to know them and provides the encouragement and support they need to complete a degree.

Who Is Eligible?

Complete 2 Compete is a program for Mississippi residents 21 and older who started college and want to go back and finish their degrees. Eligible participants have not attended college classes in at least 24 months. They should have at least 12 college credits but have not completed a degree.

Is It Expensive?

The C2C Program is free for adults who left college prematurely without a degree. Participants don’t have to pay for C2C Coach support or the resources associated with the program. While they’re responsible for paying tuition and other fees, they can be eligible for tuition assistance each semester via the C2C Grant.

The grant gives qualifying participants $1,000 per college term to pay for tuition and fees at any Mississippi community college or public university. The grant may also be used to pay past student debt at a qualifying institution. 

What About Financial Aid?

Paying for college is often one of the biggest obstacles adults face when trying to go back to school. 

In addition to the C2C Grant, the program helps adults identify state and federal aid available through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and MAAPP (Mississippi Aid Application). C2C Coaches can also assist in finding school-specific scholarships and grants and help you apply for them. 

What Happens Once I Start Classes?

C2C Coaches aren’t only there for returning adults during the application process but also when they begin school. They can help adult students identify resources at your school that will help make attending classes easier and plan a schedule that works with their job and family responsibilities. C2C Coaches can also point to resources such as childcare, tutoring, and academic support at their school.

For example, they can connect adult students with on-campus resources such as peer support for adult learners. Adults can network with other students who are also balancing school and adult responsibilities, giving them the kind of connection that makes college more rewarding.

C2C Coaches will also check in with their adult students two times per term to make sure you’re comfortable with their classes and workload. Coaches can also be reached whenever there is a question. They are there to help with degree planning and connect adults with resources to make returning to college more manageable. They can also be there to offer emotional support or cheer on their adult students when things aren’t going well!

Get Started with C2CC2C was created specifically to support adult learners. The program can fill the gap and help adults overcome common barriers they face when returning to college later in life to complete a degree. Get started today to finish your degree!


C2C is a state program that helps Mississippi adults who previously attended college earn a degree and create a brighter future.