The Hidden Value of Associate Degrees—Why They May be Better Than You Think

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If you’re leaving high school behind and not totally sure about the best next step, it’s important to consider an associate’s degree. Associate’s degrees are underrated, but they’re definitely a viable option, and a perfect next step for the unsure high school grad. Here are 3 reasons to consider an associate’s degree:

1. It’s cheaper!

Rather than head straight into a 4-year bachelor’s program you’re not sold on, consider spending 2 years at community college. This carves out time for you to sort out your interests and consider what it is you want to do while saving some money. It’s better to consider your future career at a community college where the costs are much more manageable. This can also give you a season of life to change your mind. Changing your mind and major more than once at a 4-year college will cost you both time and money. Pursuing an associate degree gives you a chance to take general education courses at a cheaper cost, and allows time to discover interests without a high price tag.

2. There’s wiggle room!

4-year colleges don’t pass out halfway certificates. Completing your associates program after 2 years gives you a degree you can’t lose, no matter what life throws at you. The truth is some people don’t finish college, but starting with a two-year program and building from there is a smart choice. There’s still the option to transfer to a 4-year and continue your education, but there’s also the option to head into the workforce with a valuable degree. It has a permanent place on your resume, and that benefits you in today’s highly competitive job market.

3. Higher earnings!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics workers with associate degrees make an average of $120 more weekly than those without. That’s $6,240 more a year. There’s also a lower unemployment rate, 3.8% with an associate’s degree versus 5.4% with a high school diploma. For potential employers, earning an associate’s degree shows commitment. You set a goal and completed it, committing 2 years of your life to higher education. It shows work ethic. Having that sort of achievement on your resume makes a statement.

Whether or not you use an associate’s degree as a stepping-stone to your Bachelor’s, it has underrated value to consider. At eighteen years old you may have no clue what you want to do with your life, and making a choice about college might seem far-fetched. Carve out two years of your life to devote to higher education. Take classes that interest you and some that don’t. There’s a chance you’ll discover your passion. If that’s the case, your college search at twenty might look a lot different than it did at eighteen. There will be purpose and drive.

Not everyone grows up knowing what they want to be and how to get there. Community colleges and associate degree programs can help set you on the right path, offering both guidance and education. No matter what you choose to do, your right choice will be unique to you. It will look different from your friends, and that’s okay. Save money. Save time. Save your sanity. It’s okay to take the pressure off. Associate’s degrees are more valuable than you think and definitely worth considering.

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Paige Dinneny is a recent graduate of Biola University. Born and raised in Southern California, she currently lives in Long Beach and is now pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction at Cal State Long Beach. Her days are filled with many jobs including social media marketing, retail and this! She spends her free time writing, watching the Game Show Network and going to concerts.