Am I wrong to think that an associate's degree is seen as useless by people in professional life?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by TeacherBelgium, Sep 10, 2020.

  1. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Wow . . . Between Rich's tirades and pontifications here and in the thread on social distancing, I'm reminded of how Trump refers to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus" and the "kung flu."

    I move, just for the fun of it, that we begin to refer to COVID-19 here at DI as the "Rich Douglas virus."
  2. Mac Juli

    Mac Juli Well-Known Member

    OK, it's maybe not always the case, but a FD is - generally - seen as vocational studies and academic studies combined (so: more vocational), while a DipHE is seen as the more academic equivalent.

    From "A Foundation Degree is a combined degree, twinning both academic and vocational qualifications together." While states that a DipHE is a vocational qualification, too, it also says that "a DipHE follows the more traditional assessment route of academic essays, whether this is to be submitted as coursework, sat as final exams".

    Oh well. Confusing.
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I realize this was too subtle a distinction, but that's why I said "comes across as" rather than "is". My goal in saying that was to convey how other people I've known perceive this issue, not to personally attack you. So, for the record, I do not believe you are elitist.
  4. nomaduser

    nomaduser Active Member

    You can start studying again any time. It's encouraged for you to get a degree of some kind. But keep in mind that many of these degree programs don't teach you the very practical skills that can actually make money.

    Robert T. Kiyosaki Quote: “Schools teach you how to work for money, but don't teach how to make money work for you.”
    Maniac Craniac and sideman like this.
  5. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    How true this quote is. Sadly many, regardless of profession, job or trade, spend money they don't have and end up in perpetual debt. When you're living paycheck to paycheck and the money stops, most Americans only have a financial cushion of 1-2 weeks. And who's to blame? The schools with their lack of personal finance education? Or the parent/s that don't educate themselves about money and pass the "lessons" on to their kids? It is a never ending cycle.

    And as far as practical skills go, if you find a successful mentor in your field, that is willing to show you "the way", you will only enrich yourself with that person's knowledge. It is invaluable.
    Johann likes this.
  6. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Here in the United States, many people get jobs as paralegals with associates degrees.

    Here in California, where I live, an associates degree is the entry-level qualification in nursing. There are lots of jobs in nursing, many community colleges offer it and it's definitely not a waste of time.

    A community college program that I especially like is Moorpark College's program in Exotic Animal Training and Management. Its graduates become zookeepers and are apparently in demand.

    For an Aircraft Mechanics Certificate, the FAA requires either 18 months of practical work experience on Powerplants or Airframes (or 30 months on both for both certificates) or alternatively graduation from an FAA approved aircraft mechanics school. These programs are typically offered by community colleges.

    Many trades type subjects are offered at community colleges and they often lead directly into employment.

    I personally think that community colleges are the hidden gem of higher education. They are often very inexpensive and lead on to many kinds of good jobs.

    As far as looking down at people goes, I have far more respect for Aircraft Mechanics than I do for kids with a BA in Sociology. Lots more expertise involved.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Besides bad personal judgment - due in considerable measure to lack of financial education, and in many cases lack of common sense, combined with an unhealthy dose of desperation, there are a couple of issues - in addition to easy credit and predatory practices - that make things worse:

    (1) The monster of Higher Education debt - $1.3 trillion and climbing. Lifetime financial slavery.
    (2) About 36% of collection agency business in the US is medical-related. Huge debt. Other countries don't have this.

    Interesting stats here:

    I am in full agreement with Mr. Kiyosaki's statement, as quoted by Sideman. I just believe that there are other causes to the plight that he mentioned and they should be acknowledged.
    sideman likes this.
  8. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Besides bad personal judgment - due in considerable measure to lack of financial education, and in many cases lack of common sense, combined with an unhealthy dose of desperation, there are a couple of issues - in addition to easy credit and predatory practices - that make things worse:

    (1) The monster of Higher Education debt - $1.3 trillion and climbing. Lifetime financial slavery.
    (2) About 36% of collection agency business in the US is medical-related. Huge debt. Other countries don't have this.

    Interesting stats here:

    I am in full agreement with Mr. Kiyosaki's statement, as quoted by Sideman. I just believe that there are other causes to the plight that he mentioned and they should be acknowledged.
    I don't have the context of Mr. Kiyosaki's remark, so I'm not clear if by "making money work for you" he meant doing a good job of personal finances in general, or solely investing for a return. If he meant the latter, there are plenty of courses/degree programs in investment. If he meant the former - then I have no argument, of course.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Thank you. And I shall take your observation and put it to good use in watching my tone. I most appreciate it.
    newsongs and SteveFoerster like this.
  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Keep swinging, Steve!
  11. laferney

    laferney Member

    As one who has 3 Associates degrees I have found them useful in my life. My Associate degree in Nursing provided a higher salary and job opportunity than my Master's degree in Counseling did. I was an underachiever in high school . My first associate degree in Liberal Arts gave me a broad range of knowledge and interests in many different areas and self confidence. It gave me all the prerequisites I needed to make nursing school easier as I attended nursing school at the same time i was on active duty in the Air Force. It was a great 2 years and I played baseball and soocer there. I was really impressed by my first psychology teacher and became a psychology instructor myself at age 44 at a community college. Interestingly I needed 6 hours to graduate with my first Associates. degree and an advisor picked 2 course for me Spanish literature and Latin American Civilization. Although it meant nothing to me at the time I joined the Air Force after graduation and was stationed in San Antonio TX , traveled alot in Mexico and later was stationed in Spain! So in came in handy. And I just found out I have been named a distinguished alumni of my first Associate degree program. So these associate degree programs have been relevant in my life.

    A.A Forest Park Community College ( St Louis)
    ADN San Antonio College (TX)
    A.A.S Community Collège of the Air Force
    Adjunct Professor Quincy College (MA)
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  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Congratulations on getting excellent mileage from those Associate degrees, Dr. Mike.

    If I remember rightly, you are a "pioneer" on this board - the first DI member ever to earn a Doctorate from Universidad Central de Nicaragua. Congratulations on all your academic and career accomplishments. Did this fortuitous recommendation, to study Spanish language and Latin American Civilization, perhaps influence your later decision for graduate study at a Latin American school?

    I understand you had good reception in the US to your Nicaraguan degree. Congratulations on that, too. :)
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  13. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Personally, I am a big fan of the associate's degree for what the associate's degree is. That is, it's sort of like an undergraduate M.Phil. (at institutions that award M.Phils as part of a doctoral program).

    They fall into a few buckets, really. First, degrees built for transfer. There's really no practical utility for an A.A. in English Literature unless you are transferring to a B.A. in English Lit program and it's either at that same school or your (likely) community college has a solid articulation agreement to make this worthwhile. Then you have, separately, the vocational associates degrees such as nursing, respiratory therapy, dental hygienist and even automotive and construction technology (even though I don't think those need to be degree programs). Third, the ones that seem to fall somewhere in the middle.

    I think in many cases it can make perfect sense to go for the transfer move. And I am always delighted to see many community college alumni list that degree on resumes and LinkedIn alongside their eventual bachelors degree and often masters and beyond. It can also be interesting to diversify your educational fields. If you have, say, a bachelors degree in business then an associates degree in law can make for some nice resume dressing even if it provides no direct utility depending on your career path. Likewise, I think that the associates is a nice credential for people who already have a bachelors, don't necessarily want a second one and for any number of reasons, do not want to enroll in a Masters program but DO want to add a credential for another field of study to their CV.

    An ex girlfriend with a BSW (and later MSW), for example, added an AAS from Penn Foster (Thomson) in Early Childhood Education. She did that because she was trying to pivot to working with younger children, still as a social worker. Was it necessary? Of course not. However, it was a cheap piece of resume fodder that sparked interesting discussion AND helped her overcome a deficit in her experience with that particular demographic.

    As for whether it's a real degree? Eh, of course it is. But no one thinks of an associates when asking if you have "a degree." I most definitely became an alumnus of the University of Scranton the moment my A.A. was awarded. And I am grateful that I was able to leave with that credential. If you leave a four year school one semester shy of a bachelors degree and they don't offer associates degrees, you typically leave with nothing at all. So in cases like my own, it was a fine consolation prize (and the military does, at least as of my very distant enlistment, still care somewhat about associates degrees).
    innen_oda likes this.
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is self-contradictory. Yet, I agree with it.
    Depends on the branch, I guess. In the Air Force, degrees from CCAF were considered almost mandatory for promotion to pay grades E-8 and E-9 (which were done, in part, by selection boards). Other associate degrees didn't matter, and higher degrees not much more than zero. You were better off with just an AAS from CCAF than with a master's but no CCAF AAS.

    I understand they're changing that unspoken policy to put degrees from other schools on par.

    When I was a staff sergeant and in the Air Force Reserve, I wanted to come back on active duty. But it was impossible as an enlisted member, even though I had two bachelor's degrees and was nearly done with my MBA. So I became an officer instead. (My CCAF AAS was irrelevant. No one ever asked for it.)

    Life is weird.
  15. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    The Navy was, and this was almost 20 years ago so I'm sure some has changed, at the time I was in really pushing higher ed within enlisted ranks. At the same time, the Navy lacks its own version of CCAF (something that I think should be accessible to all of the branches). The conventional wisdom of the day was that you needed a bachelor to make E-7 and a Masters to make E-8/E-9. There were problems with this, of course. The first was that the Navy had the limited duty officer (LDO) program which promoted senior enlisted personnel to commissioned ranks due to their specialized expertise. It was a program that often intersected in weird ways with the goals and objections of the Warrant Officer program. Both of those programs, notably, did not require bachelors degrees to apply and be accepted. That was the point. If you had a bachelors degree and were enlisted you could just apply to OCS (or a direct commission in the case of certain staff roles). As you needed to be a minimum of an E-7 to become an LDO or a CWO, it basically undercut both programs to require bachelors degrees to make E-7.

    Of course, this wasn't (at the time at least) a formal requirement. It was just "known" that you needed a bachelors when going up to board if you expected to make it.

    The associates degree was the "better than nothing" degree and something that weighed nicely in your favor below E-7 for anything where anyone reviewed your record. There were no boards below E-7. Promotions were based solely off of the written exam. So this didn't help promotions, per se. But it could tip the scale if you were up for sailor of the quarter or some similar program. Said programs could feed your eval or tip the scale on getting an award both of which added points to your exam score.

    In the end, having an associates degree was something that your LPO (Leading Petty Officer) or LCPO (Leading Chief Petty Officer) liked to see. Without an associates, no matter how much of rockstar you were, you were almost certainly going to get dinged for not taking advantage of off duty education. Of course, once you hit E-5 then people started bugging you to get the bachelors so you could eventually make Chief. An exceptional sailor could potentially make E-7 with only an associates if they were truly exceptional. But by the time I was getting out those were the exceptions more than the rule and of the last two or three classes of Chiefs I saw come up, almost all had bachelors and a few stragglers had associates. The era of the PHD Chief (that's "Practically a high school diploma") had ended.

    As you put it, a lot of unspoken (and sometimes spoken but not written) policies that fed the culture. Having an associates degree there, as I would argue as a civilian, is more useful than have 90 credits and no degree at all.

    If I were getting wishes then besides a nationwide educational framework I would actually love to see the associates coursework integrated into high school. I took public speaking my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. It was the same exact course. I got to university with 3 years of Accounting coursework under my belt from high school and yet, none of it could secure me any sort of advanced standing if I had chosen to take an accounting class there.

    Years ago (and I guess some places still do this) you could specialize your high school studies like college. We still see weird little flickers of that like my accounting program. I'd love to see the fragments gathered up. Have senior year of high school take care of some of those very basics that are common to all programs and have them count. Allow the would-be mechanic to have some form of credential for automotive technology after a year of study post-high school if they had other coursework in high school. There are some really neat ways to structure it if we get over the idea that our system needs to be based on following "passion."

    Until then, or a nationwide framework, the associates will always occupy a weird space where some specific fields appreciate it until they, too, are overtaken by degree inflation.
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Difficult, because CCAF degrees are specifically designed around Air Force specialties.

    The Air Force has neither of these, nor anything like it. We eliminated warrant officers when the enlisted "super grades" (E8/E9) were introduced in the late 1950s. We've never had anything like LDOs (and I am familiar with the concept). All line officers are the same, regardless of their prior enlisted backgrounds, and all can move around unlimitedly.

    Exactly the same in the Air Force.

    Ditto. I once interviewed a recently retired Air Force E-9. He had three AAS degrees from CCAF, but no bachelor's degree. I didn't hire him because he wasn't a good fit, not because he lacked a degree. But I strongly encouraged him to get one right way, even giving him the Big 3 websites during the interview. A degree wouldn't do a thing for him. The lack of one was killing him, though.

    That might be right. It isn't wrong.

    Me, too. My wife has a nephew that did it. He graduated with a high school diploma, an AS in engineering, and direct admission into his state university as a junior, all in the same day.

  17. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Just to clarify my admittedly ambiguous statement around this...

    I don't think all branches should have access to CCAF. I think all branches should have their own version of CCAF.

    As far as I can tell there is not enough consistency across the branches to have a one size fits all solution if you're aligning actual military training to academic credit. Even the sequencing can be tricky. While all branches, for the most part, follow a fairly standard sequence of Basic Training -> Job Training -> First assignment, not all of that training can actually comfortably align with academic credit. In the Navy A School (the school that qualifies you for a rating often but not always completed right after boot) can vary in length and intensity. Nuke school is two years long (and requires a minimum 6 year enlistment). At the time I was in, Personnelman (PN) school was something like 6 weeks long.

    From what I gather talking to people from other branches, the Navy also does additional education at much lower ranks comparatively. After A School one can go to a "C" School which is more specialized training. So you can go to Gunner's Mate "A" School and now you're a Gunner's Mate (GM). You can then go to "C" School, more than one in fact, to qualify for specialized work within that rating. The A School gives you a rating (i.e. Personnelman, Master at Arms, Gunner's Mate) and the C School gives you a specialized endorsement thereafter such as a Gunner's Mate now being qualified to serve as an armorer or a Hospital Corpsman now being eligible to serve as an Independent Duty Corpsman (i.e. able to see patients and write prescriptions etc). While some C Schools require one to be a senior rank (when I was in, you needed to be an E-6 to be an Independent Duty Corpsman, for example) many have no such restrictions. For some rating sit is common for a person to have gone to three different schools during their first two years of enlisted service. For others, they never actually go to "A" School as it is also possible to "strike" for a rank whereby you go to the fleet with only a brief course in seamanship post-Recruit Training and when you have sufficient Time in Grade for the E-4 exam (which are rating specific). If you pass the exam you become that rating. My first leading petty officer never went to A School. She was a striker. So despite outranking me by around 4 paygrades, I had more official military training on my SMART transcript than she did.

    Weird crap like that makes things tricky. I don't know much about the USAF but from what I gather there is no equivalent to strikers. Same with the Army.

    I don't know the current status of the LDO program. I know some LDOs who are still on active duty, believe it or not. But I don't know if it is still a pathway to commission. The Navy had programs such as STA-21 (originally "Seaman to Admiral") where they paid you your full time pay and benefits and your full time job was to earn a bachelors degree on campus and drill with a local ROTC unit and the push for everyone to earn bachelors degree really diminished the utility of the program. LDO made perfect sense in a pre-STA-21 and pre-online learning world. Today, one friend of mine from back in the day just made Warrant Officer. She has two Masters degrees and could have put in for OCS when she was an E-5 rather than sticking around to make E-7 (the minimum rank required to make warrant). I will add though that Navy Warrant Officers are a unique breed. Though they are technically junior to an O-1, because of their experience they can be placed in positional authority over junior commissioned officers. Where I worked our Weapons Department, for example, had a Lieutenant Commander, an Ensign and a Chief Warrant Officer 4. The LCDR was called away and the CWO4 became acting Weapons Officer. I have told this to acquaintances who served in the Army and they thought this was a damning indictment against that Ensign. In reality, it was standard operating procedure. A warrant with 30 years of experience takes command over an Ensign with 2 years of experience.

    I'm not even trying to make a point with any of this. I think at this point I'm just babbling because my coworkers don't want to listen to my sea stories.
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Okay, then. We'll do it so they don't have to. :)
  19. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

  20. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Associate degrees have value.
    As mentioned earlier in the tread, for some professions they are entry degrees.

    I think you can do a top up to Bachelors degree. In US it will be 2 years approximately as most US Bachelors degree are 4 year programs.
    But one step at the time. You can complete a top up to Bologna Bachelors degree but it may not be equivalent to Bachelors degree in other countries.
    Better to check immigration requirements of the countries you are considering for work or immigration.
    Also make sure your degree may be required to be accredited by a professional body for professional registration.

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