Is an associate degree right for you? - FOX 54 WZDX – Huntsville News, Weather and Sports

Is an associate degree right for you?

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(ARA) - From a young age, we're often told the path to a successful career leads through college. However, college is not a one-size-fits-all experience for everyone pursuing a post-secondary education. Where one person might stand to benefit from completing a degree at a four-year university, another may be just as well off with an associate degree.

Might you be one of the many who are well-suited for an associate degree? Here are a few scenarios where an associate degree might be the best college option for you:

* You need career-specific training. Associate degree programs often cater to those who need training relating directly to the career they would like to pursue. You may need specific computer programming training, or certification in a certain field of health care. For example, Westwood College offers a number of career-specific associate programs featuring plenty of hands-on training in the fields of health care, IT and business, among others.

* You're looking to bolster your earning potential. You may find yourself in a situation where simply adding a college degree to your resume will increase the amount of money you can earn. This could be through a promotion at your current workplace, or simply receiving some necessary training that will open other doors for you. Those with an associate degree earn, on average, $6,000 more in annual income than those with a high school diploma, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

* You're looking for flexible scheduling. Because associate degrees are often aimed at nontraditional students who may be completing degrees while continuing employment or juggling other life events, you're likely to find plenty of options when it comes to completing your degree. Taking night classes, going to school part-time, enrolling in an accelerated program and attending classes online are all options you can expect to find from an associate degree program.

* You're looking for a shorter path to a degree. If making a four-year commitment at this point in your life is difficult, an associate degree might be the right choice for the time being. Programs such as those offered through Westwood College allow you to complete your associate degree in as little as 17 months. If you're in a place in your life where you immediately need to provide an income for your family, or you've recently been laid off, an associate degree is one short-term option that can help improve your job prospects.

* You haven't identified a career path. If you're looking to further your education, but aren't quite sure what you want to do for a living, an associate degree allows you to complete many of the general education courses that are the building blocks of any college degree. Once you complete your associate degree, you can decide whether you'd like to take what you've learned and apply it to a more advanced degree, or you can enter the workforce with a leg up on those who only have a high school education. The unemployment rate for those with some college education or an associate degree was 8.2 percent compared to 9.6 percent for those with a high school diploma, according the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When you're planning your college education, it's important to find a program that meets your goals, rather than just selecting a program based on what society has told you. For many, an associate degree is a sensible option for their lifestyle and career plans. To learn more about the types of associate degrees offered, visit www.westwood.edu.

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