Less than half of American students—46 percent—finish college. In the last two decades, more than 31 million people enrolled in college but left without earning a degree or certificate, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Given the recent report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York citing that those with bachelor’s degrees enjoy a 75 percent wage advantage over high school graduates, closing this gap could benefit millions of American families and boost the economy. However, going back to school as a working adult can be challenging at best and for many, nearly impossible.

University College’s (UC) Bachelor of Arts in Applied Studies streamlines the process and breaks the mold of the typical degree completion program in strategic ways. First, it extends the number of units students can transfer in. Those with 90 or more units from an accredited four-year college or university (or up to 70 units from a community college) can enter the program and finish in as little as one year without repeating any General Education courses. Former APU students with 90 units or more may finish sooner, having already met the 30-unit residency requirement.

Second, it allows students to create a program that meets their individual needs and goals. While many programs offer only discipline-specific degrees, UC’s B.A. in Applied Studies offers a flexible format that lets students customize the program with the help of an advisor. Other advantages include courses taught within a Christian framework, accessibility, competitive pricing, available financial aid, APU’s respected reputation, and the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees after graduation.

As more organizations seek employees with degrees, this program offers an efficient way to increase earning potential and career advancement. However, for many returning students, the sense of accomplishment means more than the pay boost. “We help remove the obstacles and excuses and make degree completion both possible and positive,” said Fred Garlett, Ed.D., dean emeritus of the School of Adult and Professional Studies and UC professor. “We create a pathway that allows people to meet their life’s goals.”