What You Should Know About Pursuing An Associate Degree

Everyone knows that a quality continued education can mean the difference between landing a job and landing a rewarding, lucrative career. But what many people aren’t aware of is just how much of a difference the Internet has made in recent years in helping people earn that education more affordably, efficiently, and conveniently. Of all the different types of degrees out there, more than half of the degrees earned online are associate degrees. Associate degree programs offered by universities, business colleges, junior colleges, and community colleges have enabled people to learn online and prepare for a new career path from the comfort of their own homes.

Although an associate degree can open up innumerable career possibilities for graduates, some of the most popular careers that they specifically prepare a graduate for include: radiation therapist, dental hygienist, registered nurse, computer programmer, and paralegal, to name a few. Associate degrees come in hundreds of categories, some of the most popular being: computer information systems, early childhood development, fire science, graphic design, health care administration, liberal arts, medical assisting, online marketing, and web design. An associate degree is also often pursued by students as a means of studying toward their bachelor’s degree. However, associate degrees typically take only two years of full-time attendance (12-18 credit hours each semester) versus a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes three to four years of full-time attendance.

Like a bachelor’s degree, the completion of certain courses is a requirement with an online associate degree program. For example, credits which revolve around general education are required whether the student is studying healthcare, computers, law, or any number of other fields. Subjects such as biology, English, history, and math are all included amongst general education topics, as they are considered fundamental components of a quality education. In addition to course requirements, students wishing to pursue an associate degree are also required to have at least their GED or high school diploma.

Like bachelor and master’s degrees, associate degrees also have special abbreviations to indicate their field of study. Associate of Arts degrees, which are obtained by students who wish to transfer to a four-year school, are abbreviated to A.A. Associate of Applied Science degrees, earned for transfers or entry-level positions, are abbreviated to A.A.S., while Associate of Science degrees are abbreviated to A.S.

Online associate degree programs appeal to a wide variety of people with different lifestyles. In particular, at-home caregivers and parents of small children often find the elimination of a daily commute appealing. Those who are feeling the heat from the high cost of gas and other commuting costs may also find that learning at home relieves a financial burden. Internet capabilities such as one-on-one video and voice chat allows instructors and students more one-on-one attention that is often lost in a classroom’s sea of students. As well, associate degrees often lead to just as many career opportunities as bachelor’s degrees, in a much shorter time period and at a typically lower cost of tuition. Bachelor’s degrees typically take three to four years to complete, versus an online associate degree, which can be achieved in two years.

In order to ensure a quality education and maximize the benefits of earning a degree online, there are a few key responsibilities that an at-home learner needs to adopt into their studying style. One of the most important responsibilities is self-motivation, which is crucial to keeping procrastination at-bay and avoiding a workload that ends up out-of-control. Students who earn degrees online at home need to also be responsible for minimizing the distractions in their own home environment. Ironically, the same advances in technology that have made online learning possible have also created additional distractions that may affect one’s learning, such as email, instant messaging, and texting, which are more easily minimized in a classroom setting. As well, relying on technology for education means that one is totally dependent on it. Therefore, a high-speed Internet connection, stable hardware, and data/information backup are all recommended investments for the online learner.

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