‘It’s Never Too Late:’ Dalton State Helps Adults Return To College

Friday, August 15, 2014
College has already made a positive impact on Ms. Nunez.  “It has helped me personally,” she said. “It has made me a stronger person. It has helped me professionally. I can see my areas of strengths. And I enjoy it. When I get good grades, it feels so good. It’s all worth it.”
College has already made a positive impact on Ms. Nunez. “It has helped me personally,” she said. “It has made me a stronger person. It has helped me professionally. I can see my areas of strengths. And I enjoy it. When I get good grades, it feels so good. It’s all worth it.”

The University System of Georgia, which includes Dalton State, begins a campaign to help adult learners return to school.  There are an estimated 1.1 million adults in Georgia who started college and never received a degree. That doesn’t include people like Flor Nunez, who never had the chance to start college, but wanted to.

Ms. Nunez wanted something better for herself and her two children. She knew it would take hard work and sacrifice, but she is determined to earn her college degree from Dalton State while working full time, caring for her children as a single mom, and volunteering.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge, but I was up for it,” said the 29-year-old who is on track to receive her associate’s in supervision at the end of the semester and a bachelor’s in business technology management in a couple of years.

Ms. Nunez’s now ex-husband wouldn’t allow her to return to school. So as soon as they divorced, she started looking into college opportunities. She enrolled at Dalton State. “I went through so many personal things,” she said. “The rough moments have not stopped me. All those obstacles made me stronger. They made me want to keep going. … I started standing up for myself and started focusing on making a better future for my children and myself. There was a drastic change in our lives for the good. I started setting goals.”

Her top three goals were to get a job, buy a home, and get her college degree. She works at Shaw, where workers are encouraged to finish a degree and provided with flexible schedules when possible. She bought a home. And now, she’s focusing on her degree.

Ms. Nunez hopes her story encourages others to go back to school and finish their degree. “It’s never too late,” she said. “It’s never too late to go back to school. Never give up. There might be a change in your plans, but never give up. I haven’t.”

Ms. Nunez’s message that it’s never too late is being echoed statewide.

“Research tells us that the top two concerns for adult learners considering coming back is whether or not they can fit classes into their busy lives and if they can afford to come back,” said Dalton State President Dr. John O. Schwenn. “We believe both are possible at Dalton State.

“We make access to college education simple and convenient for them,” he said. “At Dalton State, we offer classes and even an entire degree program online so students can ‘go to class’ at times that are convenient for them. We offer majors that have direct application to their workplace needs; programs such as organizational leadership, and bachelor degree programs for working registered nurses and respiratory therapists. We even offer a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies for students who have amassed many credit hours in several different areas of interest.”

Also, Dalton State remains one of the most affordable public, four-year institutions in the country. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Affordable and Transparency Record, Dalton State is number 26 on the list public four-year colleges with the lowest net price. 

Grant Roberson, 28, recently earned his bachelor’s in organizational leadership, a completely online degree through Dalton State that he did while working full-time. He had been attending Dalton State part-time for several years, but wanted to complete his degree more quickly. The eMajor course seemed perfect for him, plus he found a degree in organizational leadership is in high demand in the workplace.

“I wanted to finish so I could advance in my career and make the most out of my life,” Mr. Roberson said. “I am motivated and ready to graduate. I did take a lot of classes and there were a few times that I felt like I didn’t have enough time. I work over 40 hours a week… I did it because I knew I could. My dad taught me at a young age that something is only as hard as you make it.”

Dr. Schwenn hopes others see the benefits of returning to college as Ms. Nunez and Mr. Roberson have.   “We know it’s not easy to go back, especially when you’ve been out of the classroom for many years,” he said. “At Dalton State, we’re here to help make the transition easier. The jobs of tomorrow and many of the jobs of today — are going to require it.”

Adults interested in returning to college can call 706-712-8202 or email adultlearner@daltonstate.edu.

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