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Articles / Applying to College / Impact of 10-Year Bachelor's on Grad School Chances

Impact of 10-Year Bachelor's on Grad School Chances

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | March 9, 2018

Question: Hello, I finished my undergraduate degree in 2014 and I want to apply to graduate school. My question is: it took me more than 10 years to earn my undergraduate degree due to family responsibilities, and I was unable to attend full-time. Will this hurt my chances to get into graduate school because I didn't graduate in the traditional four years? Thanks so much for any feedback!

Your protracted trek through undergraduate school might actually be a plus in the grad-school application process if you can show yourself to be focused and determined (and a great multi-tasker) while keeping many balls in the air at once. College officials often believe that “older" adults can contribute a lot to their campus.

BUT ... when you apply to grad school, you will need to make it clear to admission committees that you now have the freedom and flexibility to focus on your studies. However, you may actually have the option of taking a slow route here as well. I don't know what sort of graduate school you hope to attend. While some require that all students enroll full-time (and thus expect their students to be undistracted by family, jobs or other outside responsibilities), a growing number of graduate programs are designed specifically “for the working adult," often offering classes at night, on weekends, and online that are available to both full-time and part-time students.

Another (tiny) wrinkle to look out for: Some institutions will not accept credits that are more than 10 years old. So if your grad program has a prerequisite (say, calculus) which you took more than a decade ago, it's possible that you might have to re-take it. That's a long shot but I just want to sound the alarm, in case this is something you need to ask about.

Bottom line: Your path to your bachelor's shouldn't hurt you as you take your next steps. Just be sure that your determination to make school a priority comes through on your application ... and good luck.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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