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. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    No - I really mustn't. Doc says to lay off the cold cuts... :)
  2. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Good for them. The Navy has struggled extensively with trying to balance innovation with tradition. Some have wanted to shift to a more corporate structure and some have wanted it to be more militaristic.

    To give you an idea of how things have shifted my nickname in "A" School was "Professor" because I had an associates degree. It wasn't as tongue in cheek as you might imagine. My instructors were downright impressed that a fresh out of boot camp new sailor was so well educated. When I arrived in Meridian, MS (aka the armpit of the United States) my class hadn't started yet. So I was assigned to a General billet of folding sheets for the officer quarters. That lasted a day and a half. Then I was called in by a Senior Chief who immediately assigned me to work as a tutor for remedial students who lacked basic study skills and classroom etiquette. I had been there for less than a week and they didn't know anything about me or how good I would be at this job. They gave it to me because I "had a degree."

    This came after I was enlisted as an E-3 instead of an E-1 because of said degree.

    These days you an walk in with a bachelors and not get any sort of advanced standing.
  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Same at your local watering-hole, in most cases. Nobody's impressed. Including the Master who brings your drink, and "Doc" (PhD.) who tends bar.:)
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Before those days, too. I was an education specialist on my first enlistment. My bunkmate in basic had a bachelor's in sociology. He enlisted as an E-1. Later, while on the job counseling people regarding their education, I met a guy who enlisted with a master's degree. He enlisted as an E-1.

    On the other hand, my son enlisted some 11 years ago with a couple of years of credit. He enlisted at E-3. (He's out now, working for a federal agency doing intel-related things. He has a master's from Penn State he earned on active duty.)

    It comes and goes as the military's recruiting needs change.
  5. copper

    copper Active Member

    First of all, this Veterans Day I thank you all for your service!

    I was able to enlist back in the 1980s as an E3 with 30 + college credits. My nephew recently enlisted and got a stripe for his Eagle Scout. Perhaps the Space Force will give you a stripe with a merit badge in rocket science? Anyway, good luck!
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    But that doesn't hold statistically, where holders of bachelor's degrees out-earn those who do not, and master's grads out-earn them, and PhD grads out earn master's grads. YMMV, of course, but that's the overall picture.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Can't deny that, Rich. It may be statistically true. But it's far from universally true. Just Google "Unemployed PhD." and see how many articles you get. I remember when we had a thread here or at DD - I forget - on "PhDs on welfare and food stamps etc." The numbers were pretty high. The numbers are also pretty high for grads with degrees of all kinds - including advanced degrees - who are employed - but doing work far out of their fields, or their pay grades, as determined by education.

    In fact, the number of totally unemployed PhDs has taken quite a spike lately. The rate's up and that, of course, means relatively high raw numbers. Here it is:

    There are plenty of grads living in their parents' basements etc. My story of my local bar, with "Doc" mixing drinks is fiction, of course. I haven't been in a bar for 20 years. But it DOES play out just as I wrote, in a lot of places, as these numbers tend to suggest. In my country, yours, the UK and plenty of others. There are two sides to the coin. Just sayin'.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
  8. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Whew! Guess we were both lucky, Rich! :)
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    BTW - only reason I told the bar story was to agree with Neuhaus's statement - nobody's impressed any more. Including, of course, all the others having the same, or higher, qualifications. "Credential creep."
  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    That's a strawman. No one is claiming that.
  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Whatever. I think you're saying my 'bar' scenario isn't credible, because the preponderance of grads don't end up in this boat. I think it is credible and there are enough who are in this situation (un- or underemployment) as proof. Certainly, enough who won't be impressed with someone's bachelor's degree.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
  12. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    A really good friend of mine got his PhD in plant pathology. Unfortunately his thesis was not based on any chemicals being applied. He did some graduate work after his PhD but ended up going back to school and getting his law degree. He now does patent law and can use his PhD as a bonus for many clients. Right now he works like 20 hours a week and earns more than I ever did as a software engineer. I'm happily retired though and he's franticly still trying to save up for retirement. So all that time in school did have some draw backs.
  13. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Well, at least the career, unrelated to his Doctorate, pays really decently. Better than being a bartender or barista - or being on food stamps. As we both know, Bill - not EVERY newly-minted PhD. has stellar success. (I'll admit - some do.) Glad your friend escaped from "Doctoral Limbo" and did well for himself.

    As far as retirement goes, I did it like everything else - backwards and wrong. But it's turning out OK. I "took the money" (not enough) and ran - at 50, the minute I could officially call myself retired, per company rules. I thought the money would last till 65 - but I miscalculated and frittered it away by 64 on food etc. and a fair bit for education - and was broke. So I got a job (easily - I wasn't fussy) and was still broke at 65 when the pension finally rolled in. Since then (almost 13 years ago) I've somehow morphed into the best financial shape of my entire life. In a couple of years I'll be 80 and have been retired for 30 years - equal to my working life. And now, I have enough money to enjoy it - and my kids and grandkids will get a fairly good bit when I kick.

    Tell your friend all is far from lost. If I can do OK - he can probably do way better!
    Dustin likes this.
  14. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing your interesting story!

    We don't have to worry about my friend. He only has to work part time and got a big help on his retirement fund recently from an inheritance.
  15. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    At the time I enlisted there were two official common paths to advanced rank when enlisting in the Navy; 1) there was a whole list of stuff you completed, as part of the Delayed Entry Program, with your recruiter. Once you checked off all of the things (things like memorizing the phonetic alphabet and your General Orders etc) you got E-2. 2) For E-3, you had to recruit a few friends. It was fairly modest, I think if you brought in two people you got the rank.

    Deep in the depths of the recruiter's toolbag, however, there were some exceptions. Musicians could be enlisted as high as E-6 if they qualified for Navy band (requires an audition at MEPS) and had a bachelors degree. We had one such guy in my division. Came in as a Seaman Recruit and was advanced to E-6 upon completion of boot camp. At boot camp graduation he officially outranked our most junior Recruit Division Commander (who was an E-5). The other exception was for chefs. If you came to the Navy with kitchen experience and a bachelors, again, up to E-6. There were many other ways to advanced rank standing before that. However, from what I gather from recruiters, they were horribly abused and required much less documentation that was often fudged. For example, if you were an experienced equipment operator, the Seabees wanted you. Unfortunately, quite a few people had a father or uncle or other acquaintance who was nominally a contractor and willing to sign off on their "experience" even if it didn't exist. So a lot of those programs fell by the wayside by the time I enlisted.

    When I decided I wanted to join the Navy my father insisted on going with me. He was, at that point, still a cop (retired NYPD and then working for a small department in PA) and had retired from the Army Reserves as an E-6. He asked if I could get some advanced rank for my associates degree, the recruiter said unfortunately not and my father, without any hesitation, stood up and tapped me on the shoulder and said "Come on, let's go. I already talked to the Army recruiter and he said you'd get E-4, at least." The recruiter asked us to hang tight, went into another room to talk to his chief and make a phone call and came back with E-3.

    The only reason I got advanced rank standing was because my father was (is) a clever negotiator and knew that recruiters had more sway than they let on.

    Incidentally, he had not talked to the Army recruiter, it was a bluff. And when I went to MEPS to ship out, I ran into a friendly National Guardsman recruit who was a teacher by day with a Masters degree. I asked him about advanced rank standing and he told me that he had to fight in a similar way for E-4 despite having a Masters. Two others I met in line for various invasive checks were equally inconsistent; one was a prior service soldier who just earned his RN (AAS) and was being commissioned a second lieutenant (no bachelors, just based on the RN) and the other was an LPN was being enlisted as an E-5.

    On the one hand this stuff is highly nuanced and different experiences can be applied differently. That guy with the Associates in Nursing and an active RN license had much more to contribute by virtue of that education than I did with my Associate of Arts in a mix of psychology and counseling.

    On the other hand, there should really be a matrix for this that is more uniformly applied. In some of the cases it was based on the needs of the service. In all the others it was based on a recruiter willing to pull an extra lever in order to book one more recruit and hit his quota.
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    When I was a reservist I was a staff sergeant (E-5) working on my MBA. That was simply no big deal in our unit, where a lot of enlisted people had degrees. One guy was an attorney and working for the IRS. In our unit, however, he was a technical sergeant (E-6). When a commissioned slot opened up, about a zillion people applied for it. The guy they selected, Woody, was an E-6 with a master's degree--and about 35 years old. Tech sergeant on Saturday, second lieutenant on Sunday. And because our unit had amazing retention, there was little opportunity for advancement. I was 21 when I made staff, but I would have likely remained in that grade for 7 or 8 years until I was senior enough to get an open E-6 slot.

    Civilians think all you have to do is enlist and the military gives you everything. It is simply not so. For example, when I was teaching AFROTC at San Diego State, most of our students were not on scholarship. They were participating in AFROTC voluntarily, hoping to get selected for a commissioning slot. Even then, most of those people did the rest of their school without scholarships. And neither my wife nor I ever qualified for the GI Bill (education benefits), despite each serving more than a dozen years (and me all the way to retirement). Yes, the military has opportunities, but it's not a cakewalk by any means.

    My son worked on his master's at Penn State while being deployed three times (Estonia, Qatar, and eastern Turkey). While in Turkey they routinely came under rocket fire on the flight line. He would sit in the bunker, waiting it out and doing his schoolwork. After graduating, he transferred to the Air National Guard and is now a counter-intelligence agent for a large Federal law enforcement agency. Nothing was ever "given" to him, but he saw opportunity and took it.
    nomaduser likes this.
  17. nomaduser

    nomaduser Active Member

    I quickly realized these 'certificates' are more useless than anything. I have collected certificates from Coursera and universities. I added them to my resume. I realized no employers cares lol..... what a waste of time! Maybe it's best to collect multiple bachelor degrees instead. The certificates are for self-fulfillment. It has no value. Maybe still better than absolute nothing but it won't give you a job.
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Collecting multiple thingies of any kind isn't a job-getter. You'd likely have no better luck than the mentally ill man we discussed a couple of years back, on this forum, who had about 19 Associate Degrees - and a couple of higher ones, yet couldn't get a job. Astute employers are looking for people who can show themselves likely to do good work - not those with a basket of largely meaningless certs - or a tub of low-end bargain-basement degrees (that is, degrees in their home country) that grew on Spanish olive trees.

    Certs are a hobby - these days, I'm indulging in them myself - to a modest degree. They're not a significant milestone, generally; neither are they keys to the executive washroom.

    My take: It's best to appear normal - in all respects - if you're job-hunting. Hiring managers like "normal." It's in their comfort zone. If you truly must be "outstanding" - let it show in your work record - and maybe a high-GPA degree (or two) from the best school possible (within your particular means, that is.) Avoid overkill.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
    nomaduser likes this.
  19. nomaduser

    nomaduser Active Member

    You're right. These certs are for hobbyists... Google's 6-month long IT Professional Certificate didn't help anything lol. I realized no one really cares.
    Get a diploma or degree if you want a job.
  20. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I think that an associates degree can be a great entry level degree to several great career fields. Paralegal, Nursing, etc. have all been named. I do think that most in those fields come to realize that in order to promote within their organization, they will need a Bachelors degree and often times, a Masters degree (depending on the field). I do not believe an Associates is seen as useless but I do believe their is the idea of many in society that when someone says they have a degree, then they are referring to a Bachelors or higher.
    Acolyte likes this.

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