As college education costs continue to rise, an increasing number of students are looking for ways to save money. One approach is earning an associate’s degree at a smaller institution before transferring to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s degree to cut costs on total tuition.
While this approach has some benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of before making a decision. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of earning an associate’s degree before transferring to a four-year school for your bachelor’s.
Pros of Getting an Associate’s Degree Before a Bachelor’s Degree
It’s no secret that a college degree can open up doors of opportunity for advancement in the career field. But what many people don’t realize is that you don’t need a four-year degree to reap the benefits of higher education. There are many benefits to obtaining an associate’s degree before getting a bachelor’s, such as:
- Earning an Associate’s degree can save you time and money due to the accelerated pace, reducing your student debt upon graduation.
- You may be able to transfer credits earned at a community college to another university of your choice, essentially “checking them off” before you even get there.
- An Associate’s degree can be a stepping stone to a successful career in many trades and service careers that require specialized knowledge.
In fact, according to the Education Data Initiative, 24.9% of all college graduates have earned associate’s degrees. That means that many successful people have chosen this route.
Associate’s degrees may be an excellent way to get started in your chosen industry and finish in less time than your peers. Later on, you will still have the possibility to obtain additional qualifications and licenses that can further your profession.
Cons of Getting an Associate’s Degree Before a Bachelor’s Degree
Now let’s break down the potential drawbacks to getting an associate’s degree before a bachelor’s degree. These include:
- You may not be able to transfer all of your credits. Credit loss is one of the major reasons students struggle to transition to a four-year institution later on.
- An Associate’s degree may not be enough for some jobs that request a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or other higher degree.
- It may take longer to complete your education if you start with an associate’s degree as opposed to starting on a four-year path right away.
Think Impact notes that most individuals who receive an associate’s degree require two years of attendance to complete their credits. The first two years in a Bachelor’s degree program are also primarily general education courses that do not pertain to your desired field of study, so it seems like the transition would be smooth. However, the number of credits that transfer over to a four-year school is often lower than you would hope.
While many occupations require only an associate’s degree, just as many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. It may also take longer to complete your education if you begin with an associate’s degree since you will need two years of school before moving to a four-year institution.
So, Which is the Better Option?
The decision of whether to earn an associate’s degree before a bachelor’s degree is a personal one. There are benefits and drawbacks to both choices. Ultimately, the best option is the one that makes the most sense for your situation.
Getting an associate’s degree may be the right choice if you’re looking to save time and money. However, if you’re looking to further your career or obtain a job in a specific field, you may need to consider getting a bachelor’s degree.
Whatever route you choose, remember that the most important thing is getting the education you need to succeed in whatever field you choose.
Weighing the pros and cons of each option by yourself can be difficult when it comes to choosing a college route. By consulting with an expert in college admissions, you will have a guarantee to get a comprehensive help to make the best decision for your future. If you’re unsure about what to study, check our guide on choosing a major.