Many people overlook two-year colleges, but they are invaluable for making college accessible to more people, regardless of their career goals. Before you enter college, it is important to consider ways to maximize your opportunity and make sure the program and classes you select are right for your goals.
1. Your Long-Range Goals
The goals you have after graduation will greatly influence the program you choose. If your career interests are applied, you do not always need a two-year degree to enter the job market. In some cases, a junior or technical college may offer certificate programs that do not take two years to complete, but will be enough for entry-level jobs. Some colleges offer two different programs in the same field, such as a certificate program and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). When given the choice, it is better to choose the degree program even if it takes longer to complete.
Another consideration for some people will be whether they choose an Associate of Science (AS) or Arts (AA) versus an AAS or Associate of Applied Arts (AAA). Generally, applied degree programs are considered terminal or non-transferable, because they are designed for people who want to go directly into the job market after graduation. If you have the goal of transferring to a four-year college after graduation or are unsure what you will do, you should probably choose an AS or AA in your field.
2. Transfer Agreements
If you want to transfer to a four-year college or just want to make sure it is an option if you change your mind in the future, you may need to select your degree program based any transfer agreements the college offers. Some junior colleges have transfer agreements with area four-year colleges so if you graduate with your associate degree, you are guaranteed junior standing at the four-year college. Otherwise, if you do not complete the degree or choose a different degree program that is not part of the transfer agreement, transferable credits are awarded on a class-by-class basis.
Regardless of whether your current school offers a transfer agreement with other colleges, it is wise to look at the transfer catalog at schools you may want to attend later. You want to see which courses will transfer and whether they will make a difference in the courses you take once you attend a four-year college. When given the option, you always want to take courses that can transfer because the cost is usually lower at the junior college level.
Make sure you also understand any grade requirements for transferable courses. Usually, you need to make a "C" or above to transfer a course. If there are additional courses at your school that will transfer and count toward your desired four-year degree program but are not part of your current program, spending an extra semester or two at the junior college may save you money on your education in the future.
Being strategic about your program and course selections at a two-year college can save you time and money while helping you reach your job or educational goals. For more information, contact the offices of your preferred associate of applied science degree programs.