The quest for an associate degree is either rocky or smooth for students at Dixie State University.
An associate degree is an optional two-year program available at any college, including DSU. There are four types of associate degrees: arts, science, applied science and applied art. Each type is designed to transfer to a four-year college, but the applied degrees are geared toward particular careers.
Ali Threet, assistant director of career services, said there are two benefits to getting an associate degree.
“For one, if you are going to go into a field that only needs an associate [degree], then that’s a great reason to get it, especially since certain positions such as dental hygiene come with a competitive wage,” Threet said. “Another example would be credibility. If you are trying to get an entry-level job anybody could get, you could get a higher wage and be considered more knowledgeable with an associate [degree].”
McKenna Sorge, a freshman computer science major from Hurricane, said the associate degree matters.
“I know that if I stay at Dixie until I get my associate [degree], [another school] won’t be able to refuse my credits,” Sorge said.
Bayley Lang, a sophomore dental hygiene major from Bluffdale, said the associate degree is helpful because some of the classes coincide with her major.
“A lot of the pre-requisite classes double-dip with my major,” Lang said. “I already have to take so many things required for the general education. With a lot of classes, you can get two birds with one stone.”
Lang said the concept of “double-dipping” is important to her. This happens when a general education class is also required for your major. Completing the class fulfills the credit in both areas. This concept is important for students, because it shortens the length of time needed for completing the associate and bachelor’s degrees.
Esmeralda Fierro, a freshman nursing major from St. George, said the associate degree is required for her major.
“To get into the nursing program, you have to finish your pre-requisites,” Fierro said. “There’s no option for me.”
Certain technical and trade programs, such as computer science and nursing, require an associate degree. This gives those students access to entry-level positions and can pave the way for advancement in the field.
A career requirement isn’t the only reason why an associate degree is good to have.
Lang said the associate degree was helpful when she didn’t declare a major.
“At first, my major wasn’t for sure,” Lang said. “I started with an associate [degree] to keep going to school and keep getting stuff done. It gave me more time [to find a major].”
Nico Watson, a junior art major from Sandy, is working toward his bachelor’s degree; however, he said people can still be successful without it.
“I have an uncle who only got an associate degree, and it has really helped him throughout his career,” Watson said. “He’s pretty successful without a bachelor’s degree.”
Todd Smith, a senior biology major from Ivins, received his associate degree through the success academy before graduating high school. He said the associate degree is not important.
“Looking back, I realize what’s really important is the bachelor’s degree,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of classes I took that didn’t count for anything toward my bachelor’s degree.”
If his associate degree wasn’t required by the success academy, Smith said he would’ve just gone for the bachelor’s degree.
“The [bachelor’s degree] gives you more of what you need to do,” Smith said. “It was to the point where I didn’t plan ahead, and I didn’t know what I was going into.”
Saving time and ease of transfer are two among many personal reasons why students care about getting their associate degree. Wasting time is a reason not to care.Whether students are for the degree or against it, it’s here to stay.