A Guide To Understanding College Courses

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Pursuing your higher level of education is both a daunting and exciting journey. High school students look forward to entering their college and university education to witness a new environment that’s full of diversity and opportunities. 

As a student, the biggest decision that you have to make is to choose your desired academic degree, majors, and courses that won't compromise the quality of your education and learning. 

To settle with a good decision, it’s important to understand first what college courses are all about, which you can do with the help of this guide:

Level of Academic Degrees

Before stepping into college, having a clear academic plan is advantageous in making the most out of your time in your university years. One of the biggest misconceptions that surround students that aren’t aware of academic degrees is that they only acknowledge bachelor’s degrees, then proceed to their desired job. 

However, there are actually four degree levels that you’ll encounter as you advance your studies: the undergraduate and graduate degrees. Generally speaking, surpassing every level means that you’ve accomplished a specific master level. You can’t jump, skip, nor take a degree level in the incorrect order. 

1. Associate’s Degree

An associate degree is usually a non-professional degree that’s granted after a period of professional education, which lasts about two to three years, or in universities, a minimum of one year. This can be granted by other institutions of higher learning, such as community colleges, vocational schools, and technical schools, but isn’t normally given to students who are full-time enrolled in a four-year university.

Although the name ‘associate degrees’ is usually identified with the academic field of business, the degree has also been granted in areas as varied as sports, engineering, liberal arts, medicine, marketing, human resources, accounting, computer science, and finance. Many employers require an associate degree, especially those that do business with large corporations or government agencies. For example, many retail outlets require a degree for positions such as cashiers, gift clerks, and customer service representatives.

2. Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor's (baccalaureate) degree is an academic professional degree given by schools and institutions upon the completion of an accredited program of study, which lasts up to seven years, usually with at least two years in a university setting. It may have a specific academic focus, however, many are offered as an adjunct in the curriculum of another academic program. 

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree indicates that you’ve finished general education requirements with a specific college major, which is to be elaborated later. Many employers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to apply for a job. 

3. Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is an advanced academic degree given by institutions of higher learning to students who complete a course of study with a strong focus or mastery of a specialized area of study. The general purpose of this type of educational degree is to advance one's academic and professional standing. 

Most bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete and often lead to a master’s degree program that allows students to obtain their professional certification in their chosen field.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a college graduate, working professional, or even those who have attended community colleges. If you’ve completed a bachelor's degree, you may apply and be accepted. In achieving a master’s degree, you’ll be labeled either a master of arts vs master of science

4. Doctor’s Degree

Doctor’s, doctorate, or doctoral degree is an academic level granted by academic universities, normally derived from the traditional formalism licentiate docendi. In most countries, this is a doctorate degree that qualifies the bearer to teach at a higher level of the academic degree's subject or to pursue a certain career in a given field. 

A doctorate degree has a broad range of specialization and goals that can be obtained. Most of the time, this is the end product of an academic career. Some universities also grant their graduates a Ph.D. degree that’s usually reserved for top scholars in the academic field. However, a Ph.D. degree is different from a doctorate degree in that it usually requires more specialized studies.

Bachelor of Arts vs. Bachelor of Science

Upon choosing your college degree, there are two major classifications: a B.A. or a B.S. degree, which surprise most students. Some disciplines have both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees to offer, such as psychology, business, and accounting. On another end, some don’t.

In simpler terms, a B.A. degree concentrates on liberal art studies, involving facets such as philosophy, history, art, literature, social sciences, and foreign languages. Conversely, a B.S. degree is more focused on technical and practical disciplines of math, natural sciences, and technology. 

Choosing Your Academic Units

To become a full-time student, your course load should contain all the necessary units arranged by your university. For every semester, students are required to accomplish 13 to 15 units. These units involve courses that are significant to your degree, which means that you can’t get away from them. 

Alternatively, you have the choice to distribute these units if they’re too heavy for you, as long as the prerequisites and co-requisites are aligned in place. However, this would mean spending more time at the university. To have a clearer picture of this, coordinate with your college department. 

The most important point of college courses is that it should cover all the major topics you'll need to know for your specialization. For instance, if you have specific requirements, such as taking a certain number of units before you're eligible for a degree or getting an advanced standing, you’ll have to take that specific subject. 

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Picking Your College Degree and Majors: The Bottom Line  

In the current economy, it’s not always easy to find a good career after you graduate from college. With a few simple tips and pointers, you can be on your way to finding the right career for you right away. 

When choosing your college degree and majors, it’s important to look forward to your desired career, and answer a few major questions before entering your college.

Secondly, if you’re choosing your major, it’s important that you don’t jump the gun. You might think that you know what you want to do and that you’ve already decided what you want to major in, but this is not always true. A lot of times, people choose majors that they’re not fully ready for, causing problems with their college career. Take your time and make sure you have the information that you need before making any major decisions.

Lastly, choose a major that you’ll enjoy when you’re in school. Having a job that’s enjoyable and you’re passionate about will go a long way for your success. Remember, having a great career is only going to happen if you think about your decisions well.

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