Degrees and Majors
What Is a Certificate Program?
Certificate programs are offered at career training schools, community colleges, career colleges and online schools and allow students to learn specific career skills in order to obtain a job or specialize in their careers. Some students choose to obtain certification instead of obtaining a degree, while others take certificate programs to enhance the degrees they've completed.
What Is an Associates Degree?
Associates degrees are awarded to students who have completed 60 academic credits, usually through two years' worth of full-time study or longer if attending part-time. An associates degree can be earned at community colleges, career training schools, online schools and some four-year colleges and universities. These degrees can be completed on campus or in online programs. An associates degree provides students with career training or helps prepare them to transfer to a four-year college or university.
What Is an Online School and Distance Learning?
Online schools are academic institutions in which all or the majority of the coursework is completed through a distance learning program. Online schools offer a range of online degrees like online certificate programs, online career training, online bachelors degrees,and even online masters degrees. An online school may refer to the online branch of a college or university that has a physical campus. It can also refer to schools that strictly offer online degree programs and online courses without a college campus or campuses.
What Is a Bachelors Degree?
Students can earn a bachelors degree by completing approximately 120 to 130 college credits, usually through four or five years of full-time study. Bachelors degrees are awarded by a variety of colleges and universities, including private universities, public universities, liberal arts colleges, career colleges and online schools. These degrees can be completed through courses on a college campus or at an online school, or through a combination of classroom and online courses.
What Is a Masters Degree?
A masters degree is a graduate school program you can pursue after your bachelors degree. Masters degree classes allow you the opportunity to delve deeper into a specific field of study than you do before graduate school. Some careers require a masters degree, while others require the masters degree as part of a doctorate degree.
MAJORS AND CAREERS
Some students start college knowing exactly what they'd like to major in. Some don't know which direction they want to choose. Others have career goals, but no idea which majors will get them there. Although there's no need to make a final decision anytime soon, you can help yourself by exploring your options now. Not sure what you want to do? Focus your search for majors and careers by listing your academic and extracurricular interests and strengths. Use your list as a starting point for exploration.
WHY YOUR MAJOR MATTERS AND HOW TO CHOOSE ONE
There's considerable debate as to how important this decision really is. Some say it doesn't matter because the skills you build are universally valued. Others say it does matter because the major you choose can dictate the scope of your opportunities. Which point of view is right depends on your time frame.
In the Long Run
As you progress in your career, you build skills and knowledge that transcend your choice of major. After about three years of work experience, your degree begins to fade into the backdrop of your resume, and after about five years, it is relegated to the fine print. At that point, a degree is more a minimum requirement for employment rather than a testament to your knowledge. So, in some ways, your choice of major is not so important.
In the Near Future
Wait a minute! You still need to begin your career somewhere, gaining the work experience that will be valued more highly than your degree. A series of unrelated jobs won't help launch your career nor will a career in a field in which you have no interest. Think of it as a rocket trajectory—at launch, you need to be pointed in the right direction; otherwise, it will take considerable energy to change your course later on. The major you choose can help to direct your career.
Your Major Matters
Here are some reasons for taking the decision seriously:
You're about to invest several years of your life in studying a subject in great detail. You'll be most successful in your major, and subsequent career, if you're truly interested.
College can be a big investment of your time and money, so to maximize your psychological and financial payback make sure the major you choose points you in the right direction.
There are many careers that favor or even require one degree over another. If you're interested in a particular career find out which majors are required or recommended before you choose one.
Despite the importance of choosing a major, the vast majority of students still make the decision haphazardly. Frequently, students find the sheer number of options is overwhelming, which makes it easy to postpone the decision until well into college. Putting off your decision for too long can result in a choice that's convenient but unwise or can delay graduation.
Take Your Time and Do the Research
Choosing a major is not a decision that should be made in two hours, two days, or even two weeks. Research all your options and keep an open mind. Once you've narrowed the list of majors and careers that seem interesting, try each of them on for a while.
For example, take classes in the major and talk to your professors about the possibilities. Pursue internships and jobs where you can get hands-on experience and talk to people working in the field. If you're not excited by the subject matter or can't see yourself in that type of career, then move on to others. After all, if you start early, you have plenty of time.
Stop by the College Center and ask Ms. Pérez to let you look over the College Majors book by Princeton Review. This is a great source!