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Why graduate and not just transfer?

By Priscilla Lopez | Pulse Staff Reporter

Why graduate and not just transfer?
Dr. Ana M. “Cha” Guzmán, president of Palo Alto College, shakes hands with a graduate.
Photo by: Palo Alto College Public Relations  

When a student enters college, how they are going to finish school is not often on their mind.      

Graduation or transferring seems so far away. Students see graduation as something not necessary, because they’re sure they are going to graduate with their four-year degree. Many don’t see an associate’s degree as a milestone on their educational journey. They see transferring as their only option.

Students don’t realize that graduation from Palo Alto College is an accomplishment that shows you have achieved a goal. You are half-way through a bachelor’s degree.  You will serve as a role model for your family and your community to further their education. You will also spend less money on tuition and fees.  

“We generally try to advise students to graduate in case anything that may come up in their lives they can at least put their associate’s degree on their resume,” said Rosie Castro, director of the college’s Center for Academic Transitions.

At Palo Alto College, the CAT is the resource center for all students to get every kind of graduation and transfer information. If students plan to get a four-year degree, they may obtain an associate’s degree as you take courses that count toward your bachelor’s degree. It’s like getting a bonus degree on the path to the bachelor’s degree.

“Getting a two-year degree at Palo Alto that is transferable is a lot less expensive than doing all four years at a university,” said Castro.  “So we often compare the numbers for the students.”

Palo Alto College’s tuition and fees equal a total of $446 a semester compared to The University of Texas San Antonio’s tuition and fee that runs about $4,121 and Texas A&M University San Antonio’s that is about $2,647.

Getting your two-year degree can also increase your competitive edge in the job market. Individuals with an associate’s degree often earn at least $7,000 or more annual income than a high school graduate, and they are less likely to be unemployed during their lifetime.  

Students may also enhance their job skills in high-demand areas. Many programs at Palo Alto College, such as Pre-Nursing, Business, Computer Information Systems, Education, Accounting and Pre-Med, lead to high paying jobs.

“It’s important for students to graduate from PAC, because it’s important to show that they have started a goal and can complete the goal,” said Bridgedette Garza, a recruiter/adviser for the CAT. “It’s something that employers definitely want to see.”

The associate’s degree provides a smoother transfer transition. An associate’s degree also includes the core curriculum, which must be accepted by all Texas public colleges and universities.

“We also want a strong community of people who are educated,” said Garza. She also explained that many times students come in who are not sure of what kind of degree they would like to get. 

“So we always tell students we have an I’m-not-really-sure degree called a Liberal Arts degree,” said Garza. Anyone who is unsure may take their core courses and figure out what they would like to do along the way.

Upon graduation you’ll gain added incentives and encouragements. You will feel empowered to succeed at the next level.

“I feel it’s the first step to my long-term goal of getting my four-year degree,” said Robert Sandoval, a Sophomore Business major at Palo Alto College. “It’s a stepping stone to my long-term goal because it proves to me that if I can get my associate’s degree then I can get my bachelor’s.”

“Graduating from Palo Alto was one of the best decisions I made in my life,” said Patricia Lopez, a recent Palo Alto College graduate. “It made my transition into my four-year university so much easier, and it is something I can always show I accomplished.”