Finishing College in Four Years – Does it Really Matter How LONG it takes?

It didn’t happen for me.  It just didn’t turn out the way I expected, and graduating from MNPS in 2000, I didn’t finish my undergraduate degree until 2016.  

I felt so much shame and embarrassment.  I cringed checking the “some college” box. I danced around the interchanging the words “attended” and alumni.”  I’ve been there.

I was in all the honors courses in high school.  Advanced placement, check.  Standardized testing — blown out the water, scoring full scholarships to Alabama A&M University, as well as the University of Memphis.  But, as life maybe, it happened.  But here’s the true message in this blog — it doesn’t matter.

Life Happens.  You fall in love; You have a baby; You have to take care of your family; You have to work; You run out of money.   Guess what — at some point we ALL experience these distractions.  But at the end of the day how long it took to finish your college degree?  

It doesn’t matter.

I could tell you my life story which actually DOES NOT include the above traditional “acceptable reasons” to not finish your college degree in 4 years.  Keep following my blog and I eventually will give you some context as to why I was not able to finish school in the societal allotment of 4 years for a college degree.  You would nod your head and say yes that makes sense.  But I’d be sharing that if I wanted your approval as to why I didn’t finish my degree “on time.”  

But I’d be sharing that if I wanted your approval as to why I didn’t finish my degree “on time.”  

And I don’t.

It doesn’t matter

Sure, you will get passed up for promotions, and you won’t make the money you expect.  However, like the smart adult you are, you can decide if there is a high enough yield on the return of investment of furthering your education. 

Meaning, don’t just go to school.  Decide where you want to be in five years, and THEN decide if the degree is part of that path.  Not the other way around.  Figure out where you want to go BEFORE you invest in a particular degree.   I wished I’d learned sooner is that college should be interesting and engage you.  If you are not in a position to focus or are unhappy in your current coursework, don’t waste your time or YOUR MONEY.  You are gonna pay what you OWE for them dropped classes.  I did not find college interesting until taking Sociology Courses.  Business to me just makes sense, but understanding people kept my attention.  I didn’t figure that out until I was around 29-30.  I was also on track to complete an MBA program under Healthcare Administration on a path to be a hospital CEO. Yea, no.  I would have wasted my time and my money because I do not want to work in that field or industry.

My path to formal education is one of necessary and not for vanity.

Personally, I do not believe that having a formal education is the end all be all for successful life.  I think there is so much value in experiences and hands on learning. BUT, the way our society is set up, you got to check some boxes and play by some of the rules to win the game.  Education is truly the one thing NO ONE can take away from you.  It’s so accessible, taking a class online or in person should ALWAYS at least be part of your personal development.

Specifically for me, my motivation to complete my undergraduate degree  was competition with my late deceased brother.  My brother and I both whom are two years apart attended MTSU together, specifically around the years 2008-2011.  Long story short is that he passed away in the senior year of his undergraduate degree. In his honor, MTSU awarded him with his degree posthumously, and my mother was able to walk across the stage to receive it. Thereby having him technically complete his college degree before me, the older sister did.    That was such a wonderful day in memory of his hard work. It was also my motivation to finish.  He received his degree in 2011….I finished on up in 2014.   

Still carrying the shame, I didn’t walk, I just received my degree in the mail.  I’m gunning to finish my MBA this decade (by 2020) and walk for that degree.  

Because once your FINISH…Baby once that MONEYKEY (misspelled with money on purpose) is off your back.  You definitely get a boost of confidence (as well as a bill).  

Education gives me (some) security.  With this bachelor’s degree, I know that for the most part, I can get a job making at least $35,000.  Sure that is barely above the poverty line, but we will discuss that in a later blog post.

OK, I couldn’t hold it in:

———————->There is NO REASON why anyone should work 40 hours a week and be able to afford modest accommodations.<————————————–


Ok and back to the blog post.

Education gives me freedom.  I know that I can move to almost anywhere in the world (yes I’m definitely considering moving overseas to teach) and land a satisfactory job.  

But ultimately you have to find a reason to do it for you.  Do it because you want a sense of accomplishment.  Do it because you need something constructive for your spare time.  I’m all for getting degrees to get over breakups.  Do it because you want to set an example for your family.   There is funding available for first generation college graduates. Do it because you can use the additional money you could potentially earn.  Maybe a $10,000 degree will yield you at least $15,000 in a salary increase.  Makes sense to me.


But don’t’ be afraid to stop, start, or continue.  Because, at the end of the day, do what YOU gotta do, because how long it took to finish?   


It doesn’t matter. Because it’s done.


I’m really glad to be able to share my story, as this dialogue adds depth and perspective to Yours Truly KB.  If this is you and you are in the Nashville area, join me Friday, June 23 from 11 am – 4 pm for the Adult Education Fair, Hosted by the Nashville Chapter of Women of AT&T partnering with MTHEA (Middle Tennessee Higher Education Alliance).

Karla (KB) Burnett is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Sociology.  She loves coffee and donuts.  She is a Nashville Native and Lifestyle Blogger; a Free Spirit, and a Music Lover. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  You can listen to her as she co-hosts “The Scenario Radio Show” by downloading the app “Radio Free Nashville” or streaming the archives here.  You may email her:


KB The Nashville Social Butterfly

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