college courses 101

College Courses 101: The Basics for Getting Started

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Pursuing higher education is always a worthwhile endeavor. Whether it’s an advanced degree, associate’s degree or certificate program, there are many options to consider before starting out on your academic path.

In fact, you’ll probably have more questions than answers. Don’t worry — many people have gone through similar experiences and have raised some of the same tough questions. Here are a few things to know before enrolling in college courses.

Professional and Technical Certificate Programs

For some folks, a two- or four-year degree isn’t always the right answer. A professional certificate may be a better fit, especially if you are interested in working in highly technical fields where your skill set trumps a college degree.

For instance, an employer seeking someone for their IT team may see a lot of value in a person who holds an information technology certificate. Why? Because technical certificates emphasize relevant experience and practical skills that are immediately applicable to the workforce. 

Cost and experience are the two major factors a person should consider when thinking about pursuing their educational goals. You’ll find that certificate programs are typically less expensive than many college degree programs.

Once you decide that a certificate program is the right move for you, do some extra research on the reputation of the program and its level of acceptance in the industry.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is different than a technical certificate. Generally, a student earning a bachelor’s degree will need 120 credits, which is about 40 courses. Many educational institutions offer year-round classes so you can complete your degree in less than the traditional four years. 

If you’re passionate about a subject like advertising, psychology or any other field, then this could be the right path for you. You’ll learn it from the ground up and study it from many angles. It’s a good choice for someone who aspires to learn about and pursue a career in a specific field. Marketing is a good example. A bachelor’s degree in marketing would allow a person to pursue an entry-level job in marketing.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree is considered the first level of a non-vocational degree that a student can pursue after they graduate high school. Generally, the program can be completed in two years or less. An associate degree program typically includes introductory courses that students can enroll in to learn about a particular field or discipline. 

Think of it as a stepping stone to higher degrees or entry-level positions in the workforce. It’s also a good way to test the water to see if a course of study interests you.  

A Path for Everyone

From certificate programs to bachelor’s degrees and beyond, when it comes to enrolling in college courses, there is always a lot to consider. The good news is that there is no shortage of information to help you make the right choice before you enroll. Resources such as college websites and academic advisors are great at giving you information to help make the right educational choices.