Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree: Which Is Right for You? Published December 2, 2016

Picture yourself now: you have recently graduated high school and the world is your oyster. There are so many possibilities and opportunities ahead of you. Are you exhilarated and perhaps a little overwhelmed?

Rose State College is here to help prospective students begin their college journey. Each new Rose State student is assigned an advisor to provide guidance for a successful college experience. If students are unsure of the best career choice, advisors can put them in touch with Career Services to provide additional support. Then, Career Services provides students an optional test, which matches specific strengths with career paths. If there’s still hesitation, Career Services can continue to assist and potentially find the student a professional to shadow.

Another key decision for each student to make is whether an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is the better fit. Determining which degree is more advantageous can be a challenging decision because there’s no clear right or wrong answer. Students may have many questions: Which degree will benefit me most in my chosen career? Will I get the same job opportunities?

Students should consider the types of jobs available with associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and how the degrees could serve them in future career advancement and salary opportunity.

Consider your finances and availability

A student should also contemplate the time it takes to earn the degree and what makes the most sense financially. An associate’s degree typically takes two years, while a bachelor’s takes four. When students can afford to only go to school, a bachelor’s degree is a valid choice. However, if a student doesn’t have that option, an associate’s degree may be more fitting. College is expensive so earning a degree faster has its benefits and could lower the chance of building too much debt.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of Cappex, shares with Bankrate the general rule of thumb for debt. Kantrowitz says that total student loan debt at graduation should be less than the student’s annual starting salary.

A student can always choose to start with an associate’s degree and work toward a bachelor’s degree later. Students attending Rose State College can rest easy knowing that the associate’s programs easily transfer to a four-year university because of Rose State’s agreement with other higher education institutions, like University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City University, and more.

Erica Alvarez, Director of Graduation, Retention, Advocacy and Diversity Office, said some career paths need a bachelor’s degree, while others are more suitable for an associate’s degree.

Careers with an Associate’s Degree

The following jobs typically end up saving students money because they get out of school and into the working world sooner, while still attaining the needed education requirements to enter the field.

  • Cyber Security. With an increase in cybercrime, the need for security will only continue to grow. An associate’s degree works well for cyber security. A great benefit of this degree is that a student can make $60,000 to $70,000 right out of school.
  • Dental Hygiene. If a student doesn’t mind a mouthful of sharp teeth, they should consider being a dental hygienist. A bachelor’s degree is not needed for this profession, so a student can go straight into the working world in just two years.
  • Radiology. Most students are highly successful in this program. Rose State College has a 99 percent credentialing exam pass rate, and 85 percent of graduates getting a job within 12 months of graduation.

Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree

The following programs are great for students to get started with an associate’s degree at Rose State and then eventually continue on to get a bachelor’s degree.

  • Business. Programs like human resources, hotel management, small business and more typically require a bachelor’s degree for a student to be competitive in the market.
  • Social Sciences. Rose State College has many social science programs to choose from, like psychology, political science, and family services.

Student Check List for College

Once a student has chosen their career pathway, it’s time to enroll in classes for the semester and start planning the transition to college. Student seeking financial aid should apply for FAFSA as soon as they are accepted at Rose State College, which typically takes 24 hours. Getting involved on campus is another great way for students to succeed in their college career and network with people with similar interests. Students can download this checklist to make sure they are on the right path to success!