The time and financial commitment involved in the pursuit of a four-year degree can seem daunting. Taking the intermediate step of earning an online associate degree may afford some benefits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national median weekly earnings
for associate degree holders were 17% higher than those with just a high school diploma in 2012. That difference can translate into thousands of dollars annually. Associate degree holders are more likely to find jobs, too, with a 2012 unemployment rate of 6.2%, as compared to 7.7% for high school graduates.
Build a Career Path
For many occupational paths, a bachelor's degree is the end goal; however, a two-year degree has career advantages
. Getting your associate degree first will help build knowledge and credits you can apply to a four-year program later on. Employers often prefer to hire degree-holders
and give them more responsibility and supervisory positions over those without. If you didn't excel in high school, online associate degrees can give you a chance to catch up on key skills like English or math, making you a more attractive employee.
Learn at Your Own Pace
While community colleges and universities offer two-year programs, many students are finding online associate degrees to be the best choice for their busy lifestyles. Students who work and have family obligations often aren't able to enroll for a full-time course load or take more than one or two classes a semester. Some online programs allow students to set their own schedules and class commitments.
Until the advent of online learning, students had to travel to classes in person, which was a huge commitment of time and effort as well as cost. For those living in remote rural areas, degree programs were not available. Online programs now allow students to study during the day or at night — whichever fits their schedule. They can access their classes from home, the library or during their lunch hour at work.
Create a Network
Students thinking about an online associate degree often wonder if they'll miss out on meeting peers and possible career contacts. Message boards, joint projects and interactive video or audio sessions provide opportunities for students to build relationships. As is the case at traditional colleges, this network can help you find jobs, build your skills and experiences and make new friends.
When seeking an associate degree, online programs offer many competitive advantages compared to brick-and-mortar institutions.
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