You have goals and dreams about your career, but the overall cost associated with earning a bachelor's degree in the U.S. may put a damper on your plans.
The average cost of going away to college at a public 4-year in-state institution is $25,487 per year or $101,948 over 4 years. According to the Education Data initiative when you add in student loan interest, and the loss of income over those four years, the ultimate cost of a bachelor’s degree can exceed $400,000.
Six Reasons to Consider an Associate's Degree
Before you feel like it's hopeless, know that you don't need a four-year degree to earn an excellent salary, nor do you need to go into debt to achieve a higher salary. Learn how a two-year associate's degree can help you land a satisfying job that offers equally satisfying pay.
Smaller Price Tag
One of the leading reasons to look into earning an associate's degree rather than a bachelor's degree is that you can save money by earning an associate's degree—a lot of money.
No matter which type of degree you're thinking of earning, be sure to factor in the cost of room and board, living expenses, course fees, and the like. Even if you do find a two-year degree more affordable, it's still a great idea to look for scholarships and grants that you may qualify for.
Your Dream Job Doesn't Require a Bachelor's Degree.
Before you automatically think you need a four-year degree for your dream job, do some research. Industries change, and so do entry requirements. There may be a position that matches your ideal job, for which you only need an associate's degree to get your foot in the door.
At the very least, you may be able to work your way up to your desired position with just an associate's degree. All the while, you're making money and earning experience, all without having to worry about taking out loans to pay for your education.
Enter the Workforce Faster
Something else to think about with jobs that pay well but don't require a bachelor's degree is that you can enter the workforce faster. There could be a perfect position available that fits someone of your education level and skill set. However, you may never learn of it because you're still earning more of an education than you need for that position. Don't be fooled into thinking you need a four-year degree to stand a chance in today's workforce.
The faster you step into the workforce, the quicker you start earning money, and the more opportunities you have to gain professional experience. This gives you a leg up even when you work alongside coworkers who have more education but less experience.
You Aren't Sure Which Professional Path You Want To Take.
On the other hand, you may not have quite nailed down the professional path you wish to take. If you aren't, there's no reason for you to enroll in a four-year program just to keep up with the jones'. Instead, you're better off putting down a basic educational foundation, which is easier to do in a two-year program. That said, check to ensure any credits you earn are easily transferable to another program, be that an associate's or diploma program with a specific focus or a bachelor's program.
One specific type of program to avoid with this tip is an occupational associate's degree. These programs have a particular and focused area of studies, such as welding or HVAC maintenance. If you decide that field isn't right for you, there's a good chance most of your earned credits will not transfer.
Two-Year Programs Often Offer More Personal Attention
You may be a student who prefers to be seen as a name rather than just another face in the classroom. If so, a two-year campus could be more to your liking. Smaller campuses often offer students more personal attention, ensuring they truly grasp the course content and maximize their potential. Smaller classrooms can also make it easier for you to make friends vital to you.
Employers Need Skills Rather Than Education
While job applicants may have four-year degrees, that doesn't necessarily mean they have the skills employers need to fill job vacancies. Some blue-collar jobs where employees wear work boots and tool belts rather than suits and ties pay more than white-collar jobs. Blue-collar jobs are just as essential as jobs considered to be more “professional.” See how you can contribute to supporting various other industries by helping to construct and maintain the buildings those industries operate out of.
Reasons to Further Your Degree
The main reason to study to earn a master's or doctorate is to stand out in a saturated marketplace. For example, if you're a computing expert, it doesn't guarantee you will secure a job. Today, hundreds of candidates with similar or better credentials apply for roles, so you can't standstill.
Why earn a master's in computer science? It's because only 13% of U.S. students have postgraduate credentials. By putting in the time and effort, your qualification automatically catches the eye of employers, giving you a higher chance of being offered an interview or the job itself.
It Boosts Your Network
What do you notice when you hear successful industry leaders and billionaires speak about their peers? Among other things, you should recognize that this small, tight-knit community has links that go way back. In essence, they went to a top college, stayed in further education, and made contacts that stayed with them for life.
Even if you're not as outwardly successful as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, you can benefit from being around them and watching their processes by putting yourself in the right position. Plus, it never hurts to boost your social and professional network.
Shows Work Ethic
Your work ethic has to be strong if you're going to launch a successful startup and manage employees. Many bosses ask the question, “how do I motivate workers without money?“
However, if you have to query it, there could already be something wrong with your attitude. A team follows its leader's example, so if you're not organized and prepared to raise your productivity levels, your staff will be the same.
Postgrad courses promote a higher work ethic due to the increased amount of studying – dissertations and theses – and the pressure on your shoulders. Also, nobody holds your hand, teaching you the value of taking responsibility.
Education Enhances Your Confidence
There's nothing like the sense of satisfaction when you realize that years of hard work have resulted in a master's or professional degree. The feeling is more than relief, though – it's confidence. By looking back on everything you went through to secure a top-class degree, you can negate any career worries.
There's a reason less than 15% of people do it. If you managed to study for hours on end while working part-time and partying, then you can do anything, and your qualification proves it beyond doubt.
Paying for further education is an investment that pays out big time in the future.
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Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.