Students attending community colleges don’t necessarily need to transfer to a four-year state or private school to have successful careers after graduation. An associate degree can provide you with the same amount of knowledge and training with less strain on your watch and wallet.
Associate degree programs typically take two years to complete and are divided into two main categories: transfer degrees and career or professional degrees. Transfer degrees, as the name suggests, are ideal for students who know they will be transferring to a four-year college for their final two years of undergraduate education. The coursework includes both general education requirements and electives and, if completed efficiently, earning an associate degree can even put transfer students a step or two ahead of students at the school they transfer to. And if the student also had the foresight to complete an internship, those steps become leaps and bounds.
The second kind of associate, the career or professional degree, is also rather self-explanatory (but we’ll explain it anyway): This degree is intended for students planning to head straight into the workforce. Like transfer degrees, career and professional degrees require the completion of about 20 courses and, instead of spending an extra two years in school, recipients of these degrees can start applying their new skills in the real world right away...sometimes even before they are done with school, as the increasing availability of online classes leaves the hours to work at least part-time in their field of choice.
As students near the end of the program, it’s a good idea to meet with a school counselor to discuss career options. Consider an associate degree the key to almost any door: Registered nurses are always in demand, as are police officers, web designers, paralegals and accountants and all of these professions require an associate degree or higher to be considered. This gives associate degree holders an advantage over high school graduates and those still finishing up four-year programs. If you have your associate degree, you can start earning money to pay off any student loans before your would-be coworkers get their diplomas!
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