Associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree

Mechanical Design Technology student Mark Rice uses the Solidworks program in professor Dean Kerste's classroom.

Students on campus and across the nation are being faced with the choice of an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree.
While bachelor’s degrees have been standard, recent work force needs in technology fields have made higher-paying jobs more accessible with fewer credits.
Students now have to decide whether to get an associate’s degree in a technology field where jobs are currently plentiful, or to pursue a bachelor’s degree and wait for the long-term payoff. 
Paul Hedeen dean of the Humanities and Social Science Division, thinks that a bachelor’s degree makes someone a more accomplished human being.
“Those extra two years make you a different person, you know more, you’ve learned more, and you are more equipped to handle everyday challenges,” he said.
“Everyone has to decide what that’s worth.”
Students in technology programs on campus are finding success fast and it can be easy to want to jump into the work force and leave the schooling behind.
Employers are hiring students from the technology programs faster than they can be trained.
Dean Kerste, professor of Mechanical Design Technology, said that over the summer he had to tell employers to wait for the fall semester because he didn’t have any more students to give them. 
“There were seven job openings” Kerste said.
“All of the resumes I had from students had already found jobs.”
Automotive professor Don Kehrer also said that all of his second-year students who are looking for jobs already have them.
Students are being hired at $15 – $20 per hour before even receiving their associate’s degrees. 
Hedeen thinks that while a decent paying job may seem attractive, it shouldn’t be enough to stop someone from furthering their education.
“Most young people’s lives aren’t very complicated yet, so they aren’t thinking down the road,” he said.
“That future comes quickly.”
Kehrer said that about half of his automotive students go on to receive their bachelor’s degrees, usually in business to pursue management positions.
Bob Leonard, professor of Product and Process Technology, said that employment from a certificate can often pay for an associate’s degree. 
“My opinion is to get students started and working where they are accepted with their certificate and then draw tuition help from their employer to complete their associate of applied science,” he said. 
Kerste’s advice to students is to pursue your interests in a tech field, get the certification to find employment, and after paying for your associate’s degree a lot of employers like Roush will pay for the bachelor’s degree later.
Mark Rice is a student of Kerste’s  who hasn’t even finished his associate’s degree and is working full time in his field at Automatic Handling as a detailer.
He says that he impressed the company at the interview with his knowledge of engineering practices as well as Solidworks software.
“Overall, I have learned a tremendous amount through the program and am able to go into work and apply practically everything the very next day,” Rice said.
When He first began in the mechanical design technology program he planned on transferring to The University of Toledo for his bachelor’s degree, but with his job offering experience his plans have changed. 
“Between my classes at MCCC and my fellow coworkers at AHI, I feel like I am in a good position to soak up as much knowledge from them as I can and not pursue my bachelor’s degree.” Rice said.
“Yes the diploma would be nice on top of my associates, but nothing beats real world experience and that is why I have decided to forgo the bachelors at this time.”
Siena Heights University rep. Julie Edwards thinks that while the two-year programs are valuable the four-year bachelor’s is sometimes necessary.
“Two-year degrees are valuable most students who complete them find jobs quickly.” She said.
“Students get their bachelors from Siena Heights University when they are going for management positions that require four-year schooling.”
All of the technology degrees on campus are transferable.
 Hedeen says without a doubt that everyone is well served by a bachelor’s degree.
There are programs such as culinary, nursing, and technology that can lead to a career after a bachelors, but he thinks employers will continue to expect more.    
“Expecting two years of schooling to be sufficient is hasty,” he said.
“Someone with an associates in nursing is going to be managed by a nurse with a bachelor’s degree.”
He thinks there are very few career paths these days where a Bachelor’s degree wouldn’t be worth the money spent on it. 
Hedeen knows of the exceptions but also knows that they are rare.
“Ordinary people, with ordinary intelligence, who have ordinary luck need credentials to open doors.” He said.
Hedeen said that a major reason to pursue a bachelor’s degree is to show they are able to. 
He recalls that one of his first jobs came from an employer interviewing college graduates with bachelor’s degrees simply because the degree showed that they had persistence.
Hedeen said that a bachelor’s degree is a standard measurement of being educated and expects that someday that measurement will increase to a master’s degree.
David Rizo mechanical engineering manager at Automatic Handling Inc. has a two year degree. 
He knows that a bachelor’s degree may not be necessary to get a career in a great company, but it will help someone to work their way up.
“In my opinion, if an individual has the opportunity and means to further their education, they should definitely do so.” He said.
“Education is not the only determining factor in obtaining a job, but it definitely influences and opens doors.”