Back to School: Is an Associate Degree Enough?

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  • With the rising costs of earning a degree, or going into debt it the process, more people are beginning to question the value of earning a degree.

    This is especially true for adults who have reliable jobs with only a high school diploma.

    Why spend so much time and money for the chance to earn a little more?

    But even with high tuition rates, it remains true that those with college degrees, even the two-year associate degree, earn more than those with lesser education over the course of their careers.

    That usually amounts to far more than the cost of two-year tuition. Here are some reasons why going back to school for your associates is still a good idea.

    Career Benefits

    A two-year degree offers a good return on a relatively smaller investment of time and money. Aware of today’s trend toward skipping college education, many employers are more accepting of associate degrees for skilled positions. It is still an educational milestone that looks good on your resume. It’s evidence of your literacy, intelligence, commitment to your future, and desire for knowledge. If you would like to eventually go on to your bachelor’s degree, those who have earned an associate’s degree are more likely to go on to a four-year degree with even greater earnings potential.

    First Step to Advancement

    Traditionally awarded as Associate of Arts or Associate of Science, more schools are offering associate degrees for specific job disciplines. Many schools, for instance, offer one as preparation for the business world. An associate’s degree qualifies you for an entry level job in a wide range of fields. Even if you already hold a certificate in certain disciplines such as computer programmer or machinist, a college degree is more impressive and adds greater value to you as an applicant. If you already have related experience, an associates is more likely to qualify you for a supervisory role.

    Further Education

    You may find a better job after earning your associate degree, but going on to your bachelor’s is always an option. You’ve already gotten half-way there. Many of the courses you take could be transferable toward credits at a better and more prestigious school. You’ve already acquired good learning and study habits that will make earning a four-year degree easier. You could also consider a second associate degree to complement the first, such as an associates in science to go with an associate’s in nursing.

    More Options

    More students today enter college with no clear idea of what kind of occupation they want to pursue, and wind up switching majors as they move forward. Most two-year degrees are geared toward covering a variety of core studies and electives, such as mathematics or psychology as well as English composition and history. This gives you a wide sampling of different careers and interests. You may find one that gives your career a whole new direction, or select courses that relate to your current job and advance your existing career faster.

    Save Money

    Focus on simply attaining a two-year degree rather than enrolling in a four-year program can save you money. Your local community college will offer associate degrees at lowered rates for local residents. You can earn credits faster through CLEP equivalency exams for 33 different first and second-year courses. A great option for today’s students is an online associates degree. These are generally more affordable than brick-and-mortar schools, while giving you the chance to learn at home on your schedule and at your own pace.

    There’s no question that an associate degree can increase your marketability and earning power. Where you go from there is up to you.

    Off-to-College reference:

    FREE: college moving checklist

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