Why an Associate Degree is Important

Your diploma for your associate’s degree is so much more than words on a piece of paper. On top of showing that you’ve studied a particular discipline, your associate’s degree is proof that you can commit to a program, master the course materials, work with others and fulfill your obligations.
“I also believe an associate’s degree, especially through us, provides the ability to connect learning not only to their career but as a contributing member of society,” said Brandy McDonough, associate dean of instruction for Bryant & Stratton College – Online. “We provide opportunities that help expand a student’s understanding not only of what they have to learn to meet those course outcomes, but more importantly how they’re going to take what they learn in the classroom and translate those skills in the workplace.”
Most of Bryant & Stratton’s programs are two-year, associate degrees, McDonough said.
What is an assocaite degree?
An assocaite degree is a college degree that provides the entry-level educational requirements for a number of professions. Because the degree usually only takes two years to complete, the student can get started in the workforce sooner. Many assocaite degrees can serve as credit towards a bachelors degree later if the student decides on continuing education. Assocaite degrees are very employment-oriented.
“Our curriculum is very career-oriented, outcome-based,” McDonough said. “We really take the feedback that employers give us and help us ensure our curriculum is contemporary and current.”
What are the advantages of an assocaite degree?
In addition to greater marketability for a job candidate, a two-year associate degree can also mean higher earning power. In some cases, those degrees bring even higher salaries than a four-year degree.
According to a study by CollegeMeasures.org, “Together, the high wages accruing to graduates completing many certificate programs and technical associate’s degrees demonstrate a faster, cheaper route to the labor market that many students should consider before enrolling in academically oriented associate’s degrees or even bachelor’s degrees.”
Associate’s degrees are the second most popular choice; more than 1 million people graduated with associate’s degrees in 2012, according to CollegeMeasures.org.
The study found grads with technical associate’s degrees made more money than their peers preparing to transfer to four-year schools but were in the labor market. Technical associate’s degree graduates’ first-year salaries in Texas, Virginia and Colorado were higher than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.
“The technology field is very specific in terms of the skillset that is needed,” McDonough said. “That’s really something that employers need to be able to know that not only do you have that educational background, but that you have the specific skills needed to perform those job functions.”
Is an assocaite degree the same as a certification?
Certifications and certificate programs can get a little confusing, McDonough said. Some private companies offer their own certification programs, which can be different from degree certifications and certificate programs.
“The certificate is an opportunity if you already have a degree, it’s a good opportunity if you have to get continuing education or a certain number of credits in a certain area,” she said. “The entire degree program itself gives you a much more well-rounded experience. It will not only give you the content-specific knowledge you need, it will also give you course work that will help to better understand things like time management, social skills – these are extremely important to employers.”
An associate’s degree gives a student a solid start in a particular career field. From there, she may decide to further her education along that same path or chart a different course based on her studies and work experience, McDonough said.
“I look at it as a stepping stone from a lifelong learner perspective,” she said. “When we think about the two-year degree, it’s absolutely of significant value. It can open more career opportunities and doors. Once that’s been achieved (the graduate) may want to look at where can I take this next?”
Are you interested in getting a degree but not sure if you can commit to four years? Check out the available assocaite degrees at Bryant & Stratton College.

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