An Associate’s Degree Versus a Bachelor’s Degree, Which One Is Right for You?

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While they both offer many advantages of their own, it is challenging to have to decide and settle on one. This is because when you make your decision it will affect the course of your life over the next two to four years, or longer if you are a part time student. So the question remains, what are the differences between the two and which one is the best to choose when deciding your future?

The Associate degree is usually in one of the many Art’s areas, as well as some concentrations in an area of science, and is two years in length. It can also be stretched out over four years if you are a part time student for whatever reason. An associate degree is usually considered a stepping stone on the student’s way to a Bachelor degree. This is because even though you learn the concentration of your choice, most of the classes focus on the general study areas like Humanities, Communication Arts, Mathematics and others. The general area of study helps the student grasp a basic understanding of the world around him but has little to do with their chosen degree concentration. Usually an associate degree program will offer five to eight courses in the chosen area of study.

The Bachelor degree is taken in one of two ways. A student can either enter fresh, never before having taken classes, or they can come from a two-year school to what is called an advance start program. This is because this program takes the two years of schooling you achieved with the associate’s degree and puts it toward the first two years of the Bachelor’s degree, so you would only need to complete the last two years of training.

If the student is entering into school fresh, they will need to take all the basic courses. Only when they have achieved the fundamental skills necessary to continue on to the concentration courses will they be allowed to do so. The first two years always consist of basic courses whether it is an Associate or a Bachelor you are studying for. If the student is entering the Bachelor program with to years under their belt, they will start in their “third” year. This allows the student to jump right into the concentration core classes. The advanced program is only two years long, as the first two years were completed with the Associate’s degree.

The cost of any degree varies depends on a multitude of factors. Some of these being if you qualify for financial aid, your tuition will go down, if you qualify for scholarships or student loans or other Federal or State Funding. Most of the cost difference is based on how much one credit hour costs. IT is hard to determine a concrete price because every school is different. Some will offer to include books and software in a credit hour’s price, some only the books, some nothing at all, leaving you to fend for yourself. It also depends if you live on campus or off, or even if you choose an online course. These re things that cannot be answered here, so if you are looking into taking courses at any university, online or off, be sure to ask each particular school about their tuition policies to be sure.

The bottom line is, if a student wants flexibility to not be tied down to a four-year program, but still wants to earn a degree, then the Associate is for you. It offers the advantage of being able to earn a degree and then take a few years off if needed, and return whenever you want to. However, when you return, it will be to enter the advance start program and you will earn your Bachelor degree in just two years. This means you will have earned two separate degrees in the mater of four years.

Now if you want to start in a bachelor’s program, you will enter in the four-year curriculum with no chance for a break, unless you withdraw and re-enroll. In addition, when you graduate in four years, it will be with only the Bachelor’s degree. You will not have the Associate’s degree to compliment it. For that, you would have to go to a separate Associate’s degree program with your total schooling time being six years instead of four.

So consider these facts and think about what it is you would like to do. When it comes to picking a degree, it can be just as tough as picking a school to attend. Whether you go for the Associate’s or the Bachelor’s degree program, or both, it will be your choice and you will have to live with it either way. So take your time, follow your instincts and do what is right for you.

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