Should I Get My Associate’s Degree Or Just Transfer?

by Judge Josh on November 6, 2014

Hello my name is Jasmine and I have a little dilemma.

Hi Jasmine – thanks for stopping by.  Let me see if I can help.

I am currently attending a community college. I have decided that I wanted to complete my core classes here then transfer. However not everyone has been supported of my decision. They think I should complete my associate degree then transfer. So I do not know what to do. My plan is to transfer to Towson University next year but I am afraid that this might not be the best choice. So I need your advice on what I should do.

First things first – not everyone will be supportive of some of your decisions – and they may even be right in the end – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make your own choices and do what you feel is best fro you.  So don’t let it bother you that not everyone sees things the way you do.

Normally I’m a proponent of “finish what you started.”  That’s not a hard & fast rule, mind you, but something I generally lean toward.  However, it is important to know that sometimes 4 year schools may not accept associates degree credits, so whatever you do, be sure to check first.

Also, an associates degree may have requirements that do not necessarily coincide with your future bachelor’s degree requirements. Therefore, you may take classes you don’t really need. For some people, it’s better to just spend those 2 years taking classes you will need and then transferring without a degree.

So am I side stepping your bottom line questions of what exactly you should do?  Yes.  Yes I am.  That’s something only Jasmine can ultimately decide.  But there’s a little info for you to chew on, and I am betting that some of our readers here will chime in with their experience in this area to help you along.  They’re good like that!

 

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole November 6, 2014 at 11:48 am

I agree with Josh. That is something you have to decide for yourself. As a former community college student, I chose to strictly complete the core classes I needed and transfer to the University of Mississippi to complete my Bachelor’s degree. That was the best decision for me at the time. There are some people I know that have done the opposite, however. The benefit I have seen in completing your Associate’s degree first is being able to find a job in the field and gain some experience while working on your Bachelor’s. I’m sure there are other benefits, but having gone the transfer route, this is the only one I know of. Hope this helps some! Good luck!

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Rose November 6, 2014 at 11:59 am

Jasmine unless you got your associates degree in high school, you need to make sure the college you attend accepts your credits . If you did not do the associates program in high school go straight to your bachelors because it would be a lot of extra work. But of course you make the final decision. Good luck!

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Kaitlin November 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I am currently attending a community college as well & had always planned on transferring to the university in my town to get my bachelor’s in design. I am part of a STARS (transfer program) so it makes sure I only take core classes that I need AND that will transfer to whichever university I want to transfer to. I still plan on transferring, but after talking with my advisor, I only needed 2 more classes to get an associate’s degree in art. So I’m taking the 2 extra classes to get a degree and then transfer. To me, it looks more credible to have a degree for what I worked for, rather than just a number of credits when entering a new school. With my major, I can go into so many different field areas, so if a job opportunity ever comes up, or something happens that prevents me from going to school for a while, I have something to show for what school I did complete. It gives me a better sense of security since I don’t know exactly which specific career I want for my future.
That might not be the case with you, Jasmine, so ultimately I would encourage you to choose which feels like the best thing to do for YOU in the long run, not for others. I just wanted to share my experience & maybe that helps in some way!

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Mickey November 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Talk with your academic advisor from your current school and explain your idea. Most academic advisor are knowledgeable about what does 4-year college need from you. It is all about making transitional plan. During the discussion, you both will review your current transcript. You can also contact the 4-year enrollment/academic advisor and have them to review your transcript, your goal (major), and you next course of action. Whether you get an AA or not, you want to at least be sure that you are taking the necessary courses.

Getting an AA degree can be a nice feather in your cap and an accomplishment. Your prospective college and scholarship may look at you differently (not sure). Anyhow, if for whatever reason that you are not able to continue with your four-year xollege plan, at least you have an AA. Stick with it.

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Desirae November 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Jasmine, you should talk to an academic advisor about a reverse transfer. If your credits are transferrable and if your remaining classes corresponds to the university’s curriculum, you can receive credit towards your Associate of Arts Degree and credit towards your Bachelor’s Degree. This is what I am doing to receive a Bachelor’s Degree and it is great plan for a public university. That way you do not have to take classes you do not need. Good luck!

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David November 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm

There’s one huge advantage to finishing your AA: BLOCK TRANSFER!!! Universities often are selective with the credits that they accept when those credits didn’t lead to a degree. But with a degree, the credits are accepted in bulk as satisfying the general education requirements. (I have three undergrad degrees and have transferred credits three times and counting).

Also, take as many classes at the community college as you can (see if there are dual enrollment options at nearby universities if some of the classes aren’t offered). This is your opportunity to save a ton a money.Even with a great job after college, it sucked to lose 100’s of dollars every month to those student loan bills. Even with relatively low loans, I was paying the cost of a new HD TV every month. Could have cut those down by spending another semester at CC. Good luck!

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kiwi November 6, 2014 at 7:40 pm

I think Mickey’s idea is sound. Some things to keep in mind, and maybe weigh up:
1. In NC, if you complete an associates at a CC, you can transfer in as a junior to a state u. This saves you about 60 percent on your first two years of undergrad, and you end up with 2 degrees in 4 years.
2. Also here in NC, if you transfer in to a university, and you exceed a certain number of credit hours during your course of study (I think it’s 10 percent more than the published number of needed hours for your degree, or about 4 classes), you get to pay a ‘tuition surcharge.’ This can easily wipe out your savings on the first two years. It’s worth checking if that’s the case where you want to attend.
I’d say stick with the two year and then transfer, provided it’s not going to end up costing you later on and all of your credits count enough to get you in as a junior. If it’s going to cost you, or you can’t get good placement, no reason to hang around any longer than necessary. But it will really help to talk to a counselor first.

I’d also recommend talking to the 4 year counselor first. The CC folks aren’t going to want you to leave. And they don’t usually know what the requirements are at other schools.

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Terri November 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm

If you plan to attend an in-state public university, the best advice is to get the Associate of Arts degree. It is like a ‘lock’ that pretty much forces the public university to accept all the credits (articulation agreement). Not every credit may be used to propel you toward your Bachelor’s Degree, but it is a real degree and can also help you get a job.

I work at a high school on a college campus in Florida and know that this the AA degree is very important. 100% of our students graduate with both their diploma and their degree.

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Morgan November 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

There is a lot of good advice on this page, but I want to add something else. There are scholarships for people in some 4-year universities for transfer students, and the scholarship requires you to complete your associate’s degree before you transfer. This means not finishing can cheat you out of some money. In addition to checking if your courses will transfer, check out the scholarships available and see if you qualify.

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Jasmine March 13, 2015 at 12:26 am

I finished my A.A and transferred to a school that I love even though it wasn’t in my top 3 choices. I would get the A.A just in case, you’ll find what you’re looking for but its nice to have something to fall back on just in case. Dont let the haters & nay sayers decide YOUR life.

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A Pimp named Slickback October 7, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Ya boy Josh is right there. Do your own research, and then make your decisions. Don’t just blindly take advice from people you trust about important life decisions, find out for yourself what decisions you should make to accomplish your goals or to make yourself happy in the future.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work out my pimp hand; gonna have a busy night. Don’t let me catch you out on the streets!

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