Editorial: We need to destigmatize getting an associate’s degree


Soleil Dam

Many high school seniors are left with many questions about where to attend school.

When many students graduate from high school, they are often already committed to a 4-year college or university that they plan to attend. A lot of high school graduates don’t consider attending a community college. If they do, they plan on transferring.

We are often told that we need a college education to land a job and a bachelor’s degree to gain a well-paying job. 

This false narrative has deterred many from pursuing an associate’s degree and has blinded many to its benefits. 

According to Forbes, 25-to 34-year-olds that have obtained an associate’s degree and work full time make 20% more than the median earnings of those with only a high school diploma. 66% of job openings from 2010 to 2020 have required an associate’s degree or lower. Only around one-third of job openings in that time period required a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

Receiving a diploma from a 2-year community college instead of a 4-year university can also help you save money.

In 2020, 55% of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree took out student loans and finished school with an average of $28,400 in debt, according to Lending Tree. Many students’ debt continues to increase after graduation, as loans continue to collect interest until they are completely paid off. 

On the flip side, the cost of an associate’s degree is significantly less than that of a bachelor’s degree. According to USA Student Debt Relief, associate’s degree recipients graduate with an average of only $7,000 in debt. 

Associate’s degrees allow graduates to secure a well-paying job with a minimum of two years of higher education with less debt that can be paid off in less time. 

The smaller credit requirements for bachelor’s degree not only save students’ money but it gives them less opportunity to drop out. 

Bachelor’s degrees are a minimum of a 3-year commitment, and almost one-third of undergraduates don’t complete their degree program. If you choose not to complete your bachelor’s degree after two years in college, you are left without a degree. In contrast, those who decided to get their associate’s degree would be graduating. 

Suppose a college degree is your end goal, and the job you plan to pursue doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree or higher. In this case, you should consider attending a community college to obtain an associate’s degree. 

An associate’s degree will help you to keep your options open. If you want to start your professional career right after college or decide that you want to go back to school for a higher degree, you can do so.

*This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop editorial board and was written by Soleil Dam.