How To Get an Associate Degree at a Community College

College students

If you want to expand your career options, increase your earning potential, and enhance your marketability as a job candidate, then an Associate Degree could be just what you're looking for. Here's how to earn a two-year degree from a community college near you.

  1. The first step towards getting an Associate Degree is to enroll in the community college of your choice. Unlike four-year universities, community colleges do not have a formal application process--complete with interviews, teacher recommendations, and essays--followed by an extended waiting period. Moreover, you won't have to meet the rigorous academic standards that most four-year institutions impose on prospective students. Instead, as long as you are at least 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma or equivalent, you will be able to enroll in a community college.
  2. After enrolling, the next thing you should do is meet with an advisor to discuss your academic and career goals. Your advisor will be assigned to you by the school. If you indicated a major on your application form, your advisor will likely be someone from that particular program. If you have not decided on a major yet, your advisor will be someone who can help you navigate through the general education requirements until you choose a specific course of study.

    For the duration of your enrollment at the college, your advisor will be able to assist you in a variety of ways, such as suggesting electives that will best suit your stated goals, writing academic or employment recommendations, or even interceding on your behalf in the event of grade disputes with professors. Therefore, it's best that you get to know your advisor as soon as possible.

  3. Once you've discussed your goals with your advisor, you should request a personalized degree plan. Your advisor will then evaluate your transcripts from high school and any post-secondary institutions you may have attended. This evaluation will help determine your placement in math and English classes, as well as your current academic standing after taking into account any transferable credits that you bring in. Based on this information, you will then get a degree plan containing a list of the remaining credits that you need in each academic category (e.g. Science, Humanities, Mathematics, etc.) in order to earn an Associate Degree.
  4. Your degree plan should give you a clear idea of the requirements you need to fulfill for graduation, so the next step is to start registering for classes that satisfy these requirements. Remember to take any placement tests or prerequisite courses associated with the classes you wish to sign up for, and to try to take required courses before electives. As you move closer to graduation, it will be much easier to fill your schedule with electives than with required classes that hundreds of other students will be scrambling to take.
  5. As you work your way through the Associate Degree requirements, it would be a good idea to periodically assess your progress with your advisor. Doing so will not only ensure that you stay on the right graduation track, but also help guard against unpleasant surprises in your academic record. You don't want to wait until just two months before graduation to learn that you inadvertently failed to fulfill a requirement along the way. By taking an active role in monitoring your own progress, you'll have a better chance of succeeding.


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