Pros and Cons of Pursuing an Associate Degree During High School


I received the following question this week: What are the pros and cons of earning an associate degree during high school?

There are more and more opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school, even leading up to a full Associate Degree. The person who asked the question lived in one of the growing number of states that offer a free or drastically reduced option for dual enrollment. This sounds great, get a whole Associate Degree while still in high school, but you should carefully consider the pros and cons first!


  • Students can develop the study habits needed to excel at college while still in high school and with their high school resources and support team.
  • Completing an Associate Degree in high school can allow a student to jump right in to their major after graduation (rather than having to focus on general studies).
  • There are a growing number of well-paying jobs that only require an Associate Degree, providing more options for the student employment-wise (in case they decide to not attend college or to earn a better wage working part-time while attending university).
  • The cost of these associate programs can be significantly less than traditional college (and even free in some instances).


  • Some degree programs have course requirements spread over 4 years, so even if you get an Associate Degree you will still have to attend school for another 4 years to complete your Bachelor's Degree.
  • Your student is taking college level classes. Are they ready for that academically? Generally speaking college classes go at twice the speed of high school classes, and your student's grade will go on their college GPA record (usually).
  • Do you know where your teen wants to ultimately end up college-wise? Some colleges don't accept transfer credit, so you could end up in a situation where the student has to repeat general study courses.

In light of these considerations, does an Associate Degree program make sense for your teen? Let us know! You can also grab our Phase 4 Resource Guide here.

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