It’s one of those stories that brings tears to everyone’s eyes. Twenty years ago while living in the midst of a war-torn Yugoslavia, Gac Filipaj was forced to abandon both law school and the only home he had ever known for asylum in the United States. With little career options available to an immigrant who didn’t speak English, Filipaj managed to secure a janitor position at New York’s Columbia University. He also taught himself the language and was eventually accepted as an undergraduate student in the school’s classics program. Many years and late nights later, Filipaj finally received his degree at the age of 52. His achievement is not only to be commended, but also looked at as an example of how far one’s determination can take them. If you too want more from your life, then the best schools in Minnesota can help that dream take shape.

Gac’s story is a testament to the fact that it is never too late to pursue your desired degree or apply to your dream school. Perhaps you got that first degree at 21 and started along a career trajectory that hasn’t quite turned out the way you expected. You sometimes wonder if going back to school can give you the professional fulfillment that’s been missing from your life all these years. Maybe you never had the chance to finish college. Instead, you got married or became a parent. Sometimes life throws you an unexpected curveball or two, and college is no longer on the plate. Yet no matter how long it’s been since you have sat in a classroom or taken an exam, college can provide a second chance to erase the regrets of what could have been and set right the path you were meant to be on.

Many of the best schools in Minnesota provide dedicated support for returning adult learners. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has 17 different schools and colleges. Each of them allows individuals to take credit courses even if they are not registered students. No application or transcript is required, and all courses may be counted toward a degree should you decide to officially enroll. In this way students can try out what subjects they want to study and take classes at their own pace. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs allows students to fulfill partial degree requirements with work and real life experiences. They also offer competitive tuition prices for those already obligated by home-related or familial financial commitments.

There will never be a perfect time to do it. Returning to college is a significant undertaking, but one that is well worth it. Studies have shown a strong correlation between a person’s level of education and his quality of life. College graduates tend to be monetarily more prosperous. They are healthier. They are also more active in their communities. No matter the challenges that may stand between you and the degree you’ve always wanted, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. And don’t forget Gac. If he can do it, so can you.


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