Nola Jackson

Nola Jackson, 59, of Brentwood, New York, was 30 credits away from earning her 120-credit BA in Social Science in Adelphi's College of Professional and Continuing Studies (CPCS) in 2014 when she became ill and was unable to work or attend classes.

Because she didn’t withdraw on time, she said she had a tuition balance that prevented her from returning to the program. She made monthly payments but getting back to the point she could return to classes seemed too far off, even as she wanted the degree to meet her career goals.

But then this past April, she was offered the chance to start over through Adelphi’s Panther Potential Program, which is designed to encourage and support students who had to stop out of their Adelphi enrollment to return and complete their bachelor’s degree. As a result, this month, Jackson attended her first class in seven years and is back on the path she started in 2007—to become a family counselor.

According to Sandra Castro, PhD, assistant dean of undergraduate programs in the CPCS, some of the unique attributes of the Panther Potential Program include possible financial aid and academic forgiveness. It also includes loan forgiveness for students like Jackson who have demonstrated the ability to be successful in college and are within a few semesters of degree completion, but who may have had to make the difficult decision to discontinue their undergraduate programs due to financial constraints or personal hardships.

“The College of Professional and Continuing Studies recognizes these hurdles and, as a result, offers adult bachelor completion programs that work around adult student schedules and are in line with students’ career goals,” Dr. Castro said. “The Panther Potential Program is a second chance to finish what students have started but with tailored support from academic coaches that help map degree completion plans of study. It’s an excellent opportunity that should not be missed.”

Dr. Castro said the program removes two common obstacles to returning to school: Students who have a stop out period of five years or more and who have an outstanding balance on their Adelphi student account may qualify to have some or all of that balance forgiven, if and when they graduate. They must have completed at least 60 credits and have an overall GPA of at least 2.0.

In addition, former Adelphi students who have been away from the University for at least three years who had a GPA of less than 2.0 can apply for academic forgiveness and be admitted as Panther Potential Program students. They have to attend full time and take 12 credits in a probationary period. If they exceed the necessary GPA, their former average gets wiped out.

Jackson, who currently works as a director at a domestic violence shelter in Suffolk County, said she’s elated to be back at Adelphi and, if all goes well, she hopes to graduate in Spring 2022.

“One of the things I always carried with me is not having my degree. For all the plans I have, a lot of the prerequisites or criteria for being hired was a bachelor’s and I only have my associate’s,” Jackson said. “I have a lot of years of experience, but I just feel like I had a greater earning potential if I had my degree and it would add to my self-confidence. I need that piece of paper and this program helps me with that.”

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