Getting a Bachelor’s Degree: 4 Paths to Graduation Day

by Tobin Perry

Every student is unique. That’s why no two paths toward getting a bachelor’s degree look exactly alike. This has always been true, but is even more so today—students currently have more options than ever before as they work toward graduation day.

A generation (or two) ago, most people assumed high school graduates either went directly into the workforce, got an associate’s degree, or completed a bachelor’s degree in four years. But today, many students mix and match those options. If you’re trying to chart a course through college, here are four different paths you can take.

1. Go the Four-Year Route

Many students still go directly from high school to college, intent on getting a bachelor’s degree in four years. This route is popular because it has many advantages. For instance, it can save you money and give you a head-start on your career (or an advanced degree), which could enable you to reach your salary and career goals earlier than otherwise possible.

Interestingly, private colleges like Azusa Pacific University tend to have higher graduation rates than public ones. One reason why is the ability these schools have to nurture a new student to a degree in four years. Being embraced—and encouraged—by a supportive campus community can make a big difference in an individual’s college experience.

2. Secure Early Credits Through AP Exams

Students who want to fast-track their time in college have taken advantage of Advanced Placement tests since the mid-1950s. In fact, about a third of all high school students have taken some kind of advanced placement exam. Many high schools even provide courses that help prepare students to excel on the exams. These tests have continued to grow in popularity because a strong performance will give you college credit before you ever step foot on campus.

A student only needs to get a score of three to pass the exam. However, a higher grade can result in more credits. Getting these credits before arriving on campus can save you money and time!

3. Take Some Time to Work or Travel

Let’s face it. Sometimes students aren’t ready for the expectations and freedoms of college life immediately following high school. If this sounds like you, it may make sense to take a year away from school before diving back in. Sometimes that means getting a job and learning how to meet deadlines, fulfill the expectations of supervisors, manage a paycheck, and keep up with household responsibilities.

The year after high school may also provide you opportunities to travel within the United States and abroad. For many people, it’s a chance to explore the world before heading to college and preparing for career and family responsibilities.

4. Pursue an Associate Degree and Transfer Credits Later

Students can also complete some of their general studies at a community college before pursuing a bachelor’s degree. This path typically offers financial benefits. For instance, tuition is often lower at a community college, and if you live near to one, you may be able to attend while living at home, so you can also save some money on room and board.

To make this process easier on students, APU offers an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) option. This is a guaranteed pathway for transfer from a community college into the university.

“It’s really for anyone who wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a cost-effective way,” said Mona Thaxter, undergraduate registrar at APU. “The beauty is you’re getting your general education out of the way, and you’re focusing on a major of interest. If you have a specific major in mind, you’re getting the lower division major courses completed at the community college. That’s at a lower cost than what you’d spend at a four-year institution.”

When deciding your path toward a bachelor’s degree, consider what’s best for you, your lifestyle, and your academic and career goals.

Interested in pursuing an associate’s degree before transferring credits to Azusa Pacific University? Check out more information on the ADT option.

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