When people ask you what you want to do after high school, your response is probably that you’d like to go to college. And the moment they hear the word “college,” most people start thinking about four-year universities and all the things you’ll need to apply, such as SAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a high GPA. So how do you explain that instead of going to a traditional university, you’re planning on getting an associate degree first? Do they think that’s weird? A lot of people don’t know this, but an associate degree is actually considered an undergraduate degree in most colleges and universities. It’s not quite the same as a bachelor’s degree; however, it usually takes about two years to get one. But why does it matter so much what kind of undergraduate degrees you have? Let’s explore these topics further!
Is An Associate Degree An Undergraduate Degree?
Yes, an associate degree is an undergraduate degree. The associate degree is a two-year college degree that may be earned before applying to a four-year college or university. The degree is typically awarded after two years of study and the completion of 36 or more credits.
Why Is An Associate Degree Considered A Bachelor’s Degree?
1. An Associate Degree is Just the Beginning
An associate degree can be a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree. If you’re currently working and trying to earn your associate degree at the same time, you can use it as the first step toward a bachelor’s degree program. You can often transfer credits from your associate degree towards a bachelor’s degree to shorten your time to completion. If you have a specific career goal in mind, there are many bachelor’s degree programs that have associate degree options. Associate degrees in cybersecurity, for example, can lead to bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity. An associate degree can also be the beginning of a career in teaching. There are many teaching associate degree programs that can lead to a bachelor’s degree.
2. You Can Earn an Associate Degree in Two Years or Less
You can earn an associate degree in two years or less. Many associate degrees can be completed in just two years, and others take just as long to complete as a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges often have accelerated programs that allow students to earn their associate degrees in two years or less. If you’re enrolled in a standard two-year associate degree program, you can earn your associate degree a semester or two earlier than the rest of your peers. In many cases, associate degrees can be completed in less than two years. Some associate degree programs are designed to be completed in one year, while other two-year associate degree programs are designed to be completed in just one year.
3. It’s a Good Deal for Your Wallet
The cost of an associate degree is a good deal for your wallet. Many associate degree programs cost less than $10,000, which is a fraction of the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Associate degrees are often significantly cheaper than bachelor’s degrees. Associate degree programs are also less likely to increase in price like some bachelor’s degree programs. It’s important to note that the cost of an associate degree will vary by school and even program. Associate degree programs that are accelerated are often more expensive than standard associate degree programs.
4. It Shows Employers That You’re Committed to Education and Advancement
It shows employers that you’re committed to education and advancement. Many employers expect individuals to have an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or even master’s degree. An associate degree shows employers that you’re committed to upward mobility and that you’re serious about your career. Employers are more impressed with applicants who have associate degrees than applicants who have no degree at all. An associate degree also shows employers that you’re committed to ongoing education and advancement. Many employers will offer tuition assistance for employees who want to earn a bachelor’s degree. An associate degree can show employers that you want to advance in your career and that you’re serious about your education. It can also show employers that you want to continue to learn and grow in your career.
5. Bachelor’s Degrees Require a Previous Degree
Bachelor’s degrees require a previous degree, usually an associate degree. In many cases, bachelor’s degrees require an associate degree as a prerequisite. If you want to earn a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to have completed an associate degree first. If you’re currently enrolled in an associate degree program, you can use that as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree. Many bachelor’s degree programs have admission criteria that require an associate degree as a prerequisite.
Pros Of Earning An Associate Degree First
- There are a lot of good reasons to earn an associate degree first. Here are the top five: You can start earning money right away. If you aren’t ready to go to college, you can start working right away and pay back your student loans faster. Working while going to school is a good way to build up your resume and get experience in the real world.
- You will also learn how much work goes into being a student while earning an associate degree. This will help you decide if this is the kind of career path you want later on.
- You can save money and time by going directly into an associate degree program instead of continuing on with a bachelor’s degree program first. This means that you won’t have to take out any more student loans or worry about paying off your loans for another few years.
- You’ll have one less thing to worry about when it comes time for college tuition, which means more money for other things like food, clothes, and entertainment. If you’re not ready for college life yet, then getting an associate degree first will give you some time between high school and college so that you can figure out what you want to do with your life before attending college full-time.
- You will have one less degree to pay for. You can get your foot in the door at your dream job sooner. If you are accepted into the graduate program at your school, you will have the chance to apply for assistantships, scholarships, and grants.
Cons Of Earning an Associate Degree First
- Here are some cons of earning an associate degree first: You may not be able to transfer credits from one institution (school) unless there is a reciprocal agreement between them or if the two institutions have similar programs or a common curriculum.
- You may not be able to transfer credits between two different types of institutions (schools). For example, you can’t transfer credits from a community college to a four-year university.
- You may have to take remedial classes if you don’t have the prerequisite skills or if you want to transfer your credits into another type of program.
- Your academic record may not be good enough for admission into a bachelor’s degree program. If this is the case, then you will probably have to retake some classes or complete additional coursework before being able to apply for admission into your bachelor’s degree program of choice.
- You may find it more difficult to get into graduate programs. You will probably have to start working sooner. You will have to make an extra payment each month for your loans. There are not many cons to earning an associate degree first, but there are some.
- You might have to work longer hours and find a full-time job after you graduate from high school. You will have to apply for college at least one year before you graduate high school. And if you decide to take the associate degree path, you will have to be very organized and make sure you finish the program on time.
An associate degree is, in many ways, more than just a leg up on the educational ladder. It’s a valuable experience in its own right. It can serve as the foundation for future academic success, especially because employers are becoming more impressed with candidates who have earned their associate degrees. An associate degree isn’t just something you complete after you finish high school; it’s a valuable educational experience in its own right.