Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Chad, Mar 29, 2002.
Should one get a AA/AS or just move to the BS/BA Level ??
Well Chad, I guess the answer is...it all depends.
I earned an Associates degree (Wentworth Institute of Technology) and that degree allowed me to get a job that helped me to pay for my Bachelors degree program. In that way it was useful. How would an Associates degree fit into your overall goals? Would it be useful? There's your answer.
If you don't have to go too far out of your way, it can be a good interim addition to your resume. But it will cease being useful once you earn your bachelor's.
I earned one associate's on the way to my bachelor's and one after. For the second, I didn't have to do any additional work; I was actually able to use a graduate-level course to meet one last requirement for it. I would not have done it if it involved even one extra course. (I also used the graduate course for my MBA program; this was permissible in the associate's program.)
Having an associate's degree might make a difference in some jobs in some situations. But I would not go out of my way for one. Get the "real" degree.
P.S.: Bears' Guide has a nice accounting of the unique and recent history of the associate's degree. The story adds support to the notion that this is an artificial designation that carries no weight after being superceded by a higher degree.
I agree completely with Rich's remarks and would only add that I dropped my Associates degree from my resume as soon as I got my Bachelors degree.
It simply stopped being useful at that point.
The last local agency I worked for paid educational incentive pay for completed degrees; an associate's degree in a related field earned you an extra $50 a month, paid lump-sum at the end of each year of service. A bachelor's degree rated $75 per month. But up until the time I left (and possibly still..) each degree was an individual entitlement. If you went straight to the BA/BS, you saw $75. If you paused long enough to petition for the AA/AS along the way, you collected $125.
That was the first, last, and only time I ever saw any benefit to having both.
If you're asking about first going to a two-year college and then transferring to a senior college, as opposed to starting out at a senior college:
It will depend on the four-year degree that you expect to earn. To transfer all earned credits from an associate's degree to a senior college, the associate's degree should be an AA. AS degrees have far less portability to senior colleges. (Reason: AS degrees are terminal and have course work on material covered more completely in upper division courses.)
For many BA or BS majors, the AA will be fairly portable; however, there may be some majors (for example, Electrical Engineering) that require courses in the lower division not available at a two-year college.
The advice then is to be careful and consult the senior college before enrolling in the two-year college. (Look for articulation agreements that spell out in detail what the requirements are for transferring to certain majors.)
My advice (to be taken with a grain of salt). If you don't already have a high school degree, skip it; if you don't already have an AA, skip it. Jump directly to "Go" and get a BA or BS. If you are in one of those very rare positions to get into an MA or professional degree with only three years of undergrad work, THEN you might want to hold out and get the lesser paper before moving on.
Craig, who holds neither a high school nor associate degree.
One advantage -- and this really depends on where you are, where you are planning to go for the BA/BS, etc. -- is that some 4-year schools give preferred transfer acceptance to applicants with AA's and a certain GPA. This is (or was, the last time I looked) the case at the four-year public colleges in Washington State. If you got an AA at, say, North Seattle Community College, you could transfer right into WSU or UW and keep all 90 credits with no hassle. I think you would automatically get in, though I'm not sure if I'm remembering that correctly.
That's not specifically a distance-learning situation, though it certainly wouldn't hurt to see if an AA would be helpful in transferring to any four-year DL or onsite program you are interested in. It is cheap to go to a community college, and the barriers to entry are very low, so it is one way to save money on the way to a BA, and also to improve your academic record if your high school grades were low.
In my case, I went to the four-year school first, and then had to leave for financial reasons. I ended up getting an AA at a community college while I was biding time waiting to go back to the four-year school. I don't regret it at all. And, while I expected the academics at the CC to be low, I had great teachers, small classes, and learned a lot. The students in my classes were very motivated and a little older than the ones at the 4 year school.
To get this back on the distance learning topic -- the community colleges in my area, Seattle, have all jumped on the DL bandwagon and are offering DL courses in several different formats. They are inexpensive and worth checking out, especially if you are a Washington resident.
So I guess I'd say -- don't feel you HAVE to get an AA, but it is possible there may be some advantage, depending on your future plans.
As most people have said, I would get my AS/AA along the way as long as it was not out of the way. But you should not drop it from my resume when you earn your BS/BA. You would not drop a BS/BA from your resume when you earn a MS would you?
If you, lets say, have an AS in Technology and a BS in Business, you would lose an edge by removing the AS.
It has not been my experience that people "lose an edge" by eliminating the associate's degree from their resumes. And it has also not been my experience that they gain a thing by retaining it. Finally, it has been my experience that, of the hundreds or even thousands of resumes I've looked at over the years, few list associate's degrees along with higher degrees, and none that I can recall listed graduate degrees without also listing undergraduate degrees.
This is just my experience; I can't quantify the above.
The associate's degree, as Bear recounts in BG, is an artificial one. It rose as a means of recognizing students who attended junior colleges but did not go on to university. It is uniquely American, and not very utile. Especially when considered along with higher, "real" degrees. I don't know of a study regarding this subject, but I suspect the associate's degree is largely ignored by hiring managers, especially for positions requiring a bachelor's or higher degree. And the number of jobs specifying an associate's as a requirement don't seem to be too many, IMHO.
More of my personal experience: I've been a trainer most of my adult life. I earned an A.A.S. in Education Administration and Methodolgy from the Community College of the Air Force based, in part, on my training and experience as an Air Force technical trainer. I've parlayed that training and experience into a pretty good career as a corporate trainer (currently with AT&T). Not once has that degree done a whit of good, even though it is distinctly different from the rest of my education (primarily in business administration) and it is directly related to my previous work experiences and my current profession. In the mix of two bachelor's degrees and an MBA, it fails to resonate.
List it, don't list it. Get it, don't get it. It is largely a personal decision, one I've made twice with two associate's degrees, and a third time in declining to pursue another. The second occured while I was in graduate school and the third would have ensued soon after. But that third one would have required two more undergraduate courses. I didn't want to take time away from my real objective, the MBA. In fact, I didn't earn the second associate's while still an undergraduate because it would've involved taking one course not on my agenda towards my B.S. and B.A. It wasn't until I was able to transfer in a graduate-level course used towards my MBA did I take the second associate's. And except for telling stories like this, it wasn't even worth the paperwork to get it. (It was free.)
Rich Douglas, wondering if the Air Force will ever really get serious about educating the enlisted force by offering bachelor's degrees through CCAF (renaming the school, of course). But, no, that would equip too many people to either want to become officers, or get out. I did both at different times.
I agree with most of the comments already posted but would point out that an associate's degree can still be usefully listed on a resume even when higher degrees are obtained.
I earned a BSc/MSc in chemistry in the early 80's, at the height of the then-current recession. I rapidly discovered there were no jobs for bright young analytical chemists, especially in the Seattle area.
I retrained myself as a paralegal at a local community college. It was a two-year program, but the college put me directly into the second year after using 45 quarter credits from my earlier education. On the last day of classes, I got a job at a local lawfirm working on malpractice defense cases.
The combination of the associates degree in paralegal studies and my previous healthcare experience and qualifications were key in getting that job. Unfortunately, the lawfirm had no HP gas chromatographs/mass spectrometers to operate, so my chemistry degrees were relatively useless.
I went on to earn a MBA and several insurance/risk management post-graduate diplomas which have served me well. I continue to list that associates degree on my resume and it has never caused any comment in my current field as a healthcare risk management consultant.
I know many other technically-trained people who have had similar situations, and at least in the Seattle area, listing an associates degree in the context of re-training for a new profession seems pretty common. Must be all the Boeing and software industry boom and bust cycles in recent years.
Mill Creek, Washington USA
A lot of interesting points have been made in this thread.
Interesting. Do you feel it is an academic liability for you to post an Associates degree on your resume? <scratching head>
I continue posting an Associates degree on my resume because it pads it e.g. otherwise, I would only have a Bachelors degree!
My agency pays $30 per month for an Associates and $80 per month for a Bachelors. There is no financial incentive to climb the educational ladder beyond those two degrees. However, some agencies are very progressive, such as the Houston Police Department which offers the following educational incentives:
Bachelors: $100 bi-weekly
Masters: $200 bi-weekly
Doctorate: $300 bi-weekly
High schoolers going directly into a university have to take a SAT. Those with Associates degrees do not have to take the SAT (at most 4-year universities). I looked at several different 4-year schools and, when they found out I had an Associates degree, they all extended the red carpet.
When I received an Associates degree out in California, it was free and was paid for by the taxpayers. The 4-year universities had tuition payments. All across the country, tuition costs are probably a little bit cheaper at community colleges than at universities. So, if you’re watching your budget, take all your lower-level classes at a community college and then take all your upper division classes at the university. Calculus is calculus, whether it’s taken at a community college or at a 4-year university, right? There is no difference, except in the tuition cost.
No, I don't consider it to be any sort of liability. I have dropped it from my resume because my Associates degree is in any entirely different field than my subsequent degrees and so it seems irrelevant to my current/future employment direction.
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