ACCREDITED SCHOOLS ASSOCIATE DEGREES
An Associate degree program is typically a two-year program that tends to offer a curriculum that is career-focused, with the majority of coursework specific to the student’s career interest.
There are additional courses included in the focused curriculum considered ancillary to the career interest, but necessary for job performance. For example, if pursuing your education in the area of Project Management, coursework may include instruction on specific Microsoft products commonly used to execute work for that job.
If the goal is to enhance existing career skills or to gain new ones, an Associate degree is a logical first step to take.
Does an Associate Degree Pay?
There is considerable variance in salary comparisons that have to be factored in to properly answer this question, such as geographic locale, profession, overall experience, industry, and the employer.
An Associate degree likely will not command the same rates as higher-degree programs, all other factors being equal. Employers tend to place an initial higher value on four-year degrees than two.
But that is not to say that an Associate locks one into minimum-wage jobs; not at all. Doors open almost as readily for the Associate degree holder as they do for many with higher degrees. As with anything else in life, hard work and a go-getter attitude will lead to just as much, if not more, success.
The career path that you choose may significantly impact your salary. For example, jobs in the healthcare field tend to be higher salaried positions because they are in high demand. Be sure to examine all of the appropriate variables and personal interests and goals when determining which area of study is right for you.
Associate Degrees: The Basics
Associate degrees are typically earned at community or junior colleges, trade schools, and technical schools. There are a select number of four-year universities that provide Associate degree opportunities for specific areas of study. A diverse array of institutions offer Associate degree programs, such as public schools, private schools, for-profit schools, and non-profit schools. Associate degree programs are available both online and in campus-based classrooms.
Online Associate degree programs, offering a combination of both core undergraduate education and specialized career-oriented coursework, are an excellent solution for those looking to continue their education.
Here is a brief list of Associate Degree courses:
|Basic Computer Literacy||This course introduces first-year students to the use of digital resources to conduct online research, prepare written work for class, and protect their data.|
|Elementary Spanish||Through the use of class discussions and foreign language laboratory hours, students learn Spanish language vocabulary, sentence structure, pronunciation, and culture.|
|Introduction to Anthropology||An introduction to human development in diverse biological or environmental conditions. Satisfies one social science requirement.|
|Early Childhood Education II||Continuing from ECE I, this course includes a historical view of early childhood education, cultural diversity, classroom ethics, special needs, and teaching curriculum.|
|Advanced Managerial Accounting||This class focuses on the interpretation of cost information and data used in planning or controlling business organizations. Instruction will include accurate report formatting.|
When an Associate Degree Makes Sense
For students who have not decided on their desired major, or those whose career field does not require a four-year degree, an Associate degree is a perfect option. Associate degree programs are specifically designed to help students determine which line of work is best suited for them by offering classes in a wide variety of disciplines.
Others who may greatly benefit from an Associate degree are those who are looking to enter a specific career field with immediate eligibility for possible promotion. As many employers require their high-level employees to have a degree in a relevant field of study, obtaining an Associate degree can be an invaluable tool for broadening advancement opportunities.
Finally, an Associate degree is convenient for those who may want to establish a strong history of academic success before applying to a competitive four-year university. Since more four-year colleges offering Bachelor’s degree programs permit the transferring of credits earned in an Associate degree program, students can go on to obtain their Bachelor’s degree in two years or less after the completion of an Associate degree program.
TWO YEARS TO A CAREER
Earning a two-year degree allows for individuals to enter a career field quickly, and to begin building experience in their desired profession. With most online courses granting students around-the-clock access to their studies, a degree can be earned even faster than the standard on-campus start-to-finish dates, as many programs are self-paced.
Also, seasoned professionals in the field teach the online courses students are looking to advance in, providing real-world education and guidance.
It is not uncommon for a student to pursue an Associate degree for more than one specialty within a single line of work. The versatility of an online Associate degree program allows students to obtain a well-rounded education, positioning them to excel in their career of choice with distinguished success.
Some examples of professional fields that hire entry-level graduates from associate degree programs include:
Health Care Office and Technical Support
Medical assistants, Medical Billing and Insurance Technicians, Dental Assistants, Physical Therapy Assistants and Aides.
Health Care Practitioners and Technicians
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Dental Hygienists, Radiation Therapists, and Registered Nurses.
First Response and Legal Professionals
Paralegals, Police Officers, Firefighters, EMTs, Court Reporters, Forensics Technicians, Homeland Security Officers, and Correctional Officers.
Technology and Technical
Computer Support Specialists, Civil Engineering Technicians, Electronics Technicians, and Construction Trades Technicians.
TRANSFER TO A FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY
In 2013, only one in five community college students transferred to a four-year institution. But 60 percent of those who do so earn a bachelor’s degree within four years, according to new research from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Community and junior colleges are an ideal starting point in that they tend to be less expensive than four-year colleges. This benefit has become increasingly evident as more and more four-year universities are offering “reverse transfers”, which allows students to complete a two-year degree program before returning to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, cutting students’ educational costs. With little variance between core courses at a four-year university vs. a two-year college, this is a sensible solution for many students looking to save on college expenses without compromising the quality of their education.
When planning to transfer from an Associate degree program to a Bachelor’s degree program, students must make sure that all requirements have been met, ensuring their hard work and credit hours successfully transfer to a four-year institution. In preparation, students should look for assistance in confirming that their courses and credits are eligible for transfer. Also, students should secure letters of recommendation, create an admissions essay, and complete the mandatory testing required by the new institution for acceptance consideration. Students are advised to focus primarily on the field(s) of study in which they exhibit greatest strength and interest.
Online Associate Degree Programs
Online Associate degree programs provide a distance learning opportunity accessible from any location with a reliable internet connection. These programs typically allow around-the-clock access, often with support available via email and 24-hour chat rooms.
All components of the program – including the application process, registration, enrollment, course selection, and coursework – are conducted digitally through the school’s online platform. Technology, such as video conferencing and instant chat, is used to help produce an environment just as engaging as an on-campus experience. Additionally, with an online Associate degree program, the student enjoys the added benefit of learning from anywhere, at any time, in an environment tailored specifically to their schedule and lifestyle.
Online Learning Q&A
Is there faculty readily available to help in online programs?
Yes. Online professors set regular ‘office hours’ for students needing assistance. Emailing is also an effective way of addressing any questions or concerns.
Am I required to be online daily to attend an online school?
No. While some online classes require attendance in online discussions, most online schooling is scheduled around the student’s time. Students tend to perform best when they develop a steady and logical schedule that suits their everyday life.
Will I receive the same level of peer interaction learning online as I would in an on-site classroom?
Yes. Quality academic relationships can be formed between students receiving their education online through collaborative assignments, conference calls, online chat, phone number exchange, etc., as peer connection via the Internet is a growing reality.
If online learning takes less time to complete than traditional learning, is it still as valuable?
Yes. Because online learning requires hard work and dedication, students who can balance school and other responsibilities in their everyday lives to gain a solid education are valuable to potential employers, regardless of the format of their schooling. Many individuals attending online programs tend to complete their degree in a short amount of time and are viewed by potential employees as dedicated and driven.
Do all online schools provide financial aid assistance?
No, not necessarily. Schools with superior credentials have a higher likelihood of providing students with financial assistance. Students are encouraged to meet with financial aid representatives prior to enrolling when choosing a school based on this factor.
Community College Accreditation
For students new to the arena of higher education, the term ‘accredited college’ may be familiar, yet not fully understood. So what is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary act of granting recognition to institutions displaying the credit and appropriate qualifications for delivering quality services, usually with regards to a business or educational facility. Many colleges and universities seek accreditation to ensure that their institution is recognized as performing at a level desired by attendees and employers of their alumni. Financial aid agencies will more readily offer grants, loans, and work-study packages to accredited colleges. The U.S. Department of Education approves accreditation agencies. Different credentials may be sought after for various educational facilities, depending on a school’s specialties.