What the Heck is an "Upside Down" Degree?

Students who earn the associate degree at a local community college have taken one of two paths:

– Transfer path to a 4 year college. At the community college, students took general education courses and some core lower division classes, and transferred to the local state college as juniors.

– Career path to a job. These associate degrees would help in finding a job after graduation. Some of these majors that led to employment were Electronics, Computer Repair, Auto Mechanic, Administrative Assistant. The college advisors emphasized that these associate degrees are not easily transferrable.

Two changes were made to allow students with a Career Track Associate (Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Applied Technology, or non-transferable AA or AS degrees) to go ahead and earn a bachelor’s degree without losing all of their credits to lose.

1) Private universities (particularly for-profit schools) allow students to transfer more AAS and other non-transferable degrees without losing most of their credits. Even if these private schools are more expensive, students see that the time to bachelor’s degree is much shorter.

2) Some state legislatures began investigating the need for the community college to offer bachelor’s degrees. This was opposed by the state colleges, who feared a huge loss of students.

So the local state colleges began to compromise. A compromise was the addition of the Bachelor of Applied Science or Bachelor of Applied Technology degrees. Students with the AAS or other non-transferable associate degree now had the option of transferring the associate degree “as a whole” and would enter state college as a junior. The term “reversed degree” was used to show that the major was at the community college or lower division level and the general education would be taught at the state college or upper division level.

More compromises have been proposed recently. Some states offer the 90-30 program. The first 90 credits (usually the first 3 years) are taught at community college, with only one year at the more expensive state university. All of these changes have lowered the cost of attending public colleges.

Thanks to Dr. Sandy Womack

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