Completing your degree: It’s not too late

FEATURE OPINION — When I was a student in the early ’90s, what is now Dixie State University was a community college, and the average age of the student population was 19 or 20 years old. A lot has changed since that time, including new buildings, degrees and university-level events. However, one change that often goes unnoticed is DSU’s student demographics.

A nontraditional Dixie State student | Photo courtesy of Kyle Wells, St. George News
A nontraditional Dixie State student | Photo courtesy of Kyle Wells, St. George News

Where once the average student was young and minimally employed, now more than three-quarters of them work part or full time. Just over a quarter are over the age of 25, and the average age is now 25 years old.

This isn’t surprising, given there are more than 30,000 adult residents living in Washington County who have some college experience but do not yet have a degree. More than ten-thousand of those have an associate’s degree but not a bachelor’s.

Nontraditional students bring experience to the classroom and are broadly welcomed by faculty. They bring insights that validate academic theory. Of the many advantages, these students commonly mentor younger students.

A few years ago, I was teaching a business statistics course, which is obviously not a popular subject. A good friend of mine from Dixie High School was enrolled in the course after many years away from school. He had done very well for himself but wanted to finish his degree.

During the course of the class, I paired him with a younger student who showed a high level of ambition. Over the course of the semester, I watched as the experience and real-world knowledge of my good friend changed this young student. It was one of the many cherished experiences I’ve had since coming back to Dixie as a faculty member. Today, that young student is leading a team of statisticians for a nationwide logistics company headquartered in Salt Lake City.

Whether it is fulfilling a life goal or a requirement for a promotion, a college degree is attainable regardless of one’s age. It also provides some security in today’s volatile job market.

In a recent report from The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), the unemployment rate for persons with a bachelor’s degree is 3.5 percent nationwide, versus 6 percent for those without a college degree. Median earnings jump from $668 per week on average for an employed adult without a college degree to $1,101 for someone with a degree. Over the course of a career, that equates to a million-dollar difference.

If you have considered completing your degree, come speak to an advisor at DSU. You might just find that you feel even more comfortable in the classroom with some of life’s experiences behind you.

KyleWellsWritten by Kyle Wells  for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

Dr. Kyle Wells is the Dean of Business and Communication at Dixie State University. A native of St. George, Kyle has been teaching finance and statistics at DSU for 10 years. He and his wife, JoEllen, moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico. They have four children and enjoy the warm winters of St. George, spending as much time as possible in Pine Valley during the summer.

St. George Health and Wellness website

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.


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