For students who are unsure of their major, the Associate of Arts Transfer degree may be a useful guide.
If a student enrolls full time, AAOT requirements are typically met within two years. The first thing to do when a student plans on pursuing an AAOT is to make an appointment with an advising specialist.
Once this is done, advisors can discuss degree requirements and assist students in identifying classes so they can get started. When students are close to completing their requirements, they need to apply for graduation, order their transcript and fill out an application for the school they intend to transfer to.
The AAOT is not meant to replace a degree that a student can enter the workforce with however, according to Vickery Viles, the head of the Careers, Advising and Personal Counseling department.
“The AAOT and other transfer degrees are strategies for students to prepare to pursue a bachelors degree,” said Viles. “We have other degrees available that are ready for the student to enter the workforce right after graduation.”
The Associate of Arts, Oregon Transfer Degree provides a foundation for upper division work, according to the COCC website. With this degree, students can transfer to any Oregon public four-year university and enter as a junior with their general education requirements already met.
“The AAOT degree has those guarantees built into it through statute,” said Viles, referencing decisions made by the Oregon Senate in 2005 when they passed Senate Bill 342.
A 2010 study conducted by the National Association for College Admission revealed that about one in three students who apply to a two or four-year college will end up transferring to another university at some point in their career. For this reason, Viles directs many students to complete their core classes for their major first.
“We spend a lot of time encouraging students to take courses for a specific major if they’re pursuing an AA,” said Viles, “And that helps better position them to earn their bachelor’s degree after they transfer.”
Working towards the AAOT degree can also benefit students in other ways. The degree may help students fill out their general education, according to Erica Erikson, a psychology major at COCC.
“I think getting my AAOT really helped me be a better student,” said Erikson, who finished her AAOT last term and plans to transfer to Oregon State University-Cascades. “There are things I learned I probably never would have if I didn’t need them for my degree. I feel like I know so much more about the world now and the AAOT gave me that opportunity.”
The other transfer degree available is the Associate of Science and is more applicable to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a specific institution, typically in the field of business, science or engineering according to the COCC website. Students should note that unlike the AAOT, the AS degree does not guarantee junior status upon transferring according to Viles.
“The AS does not have any guarantees built in,” says Viles. “It’s only as effective as the way the student plans it.”
The ways in which colleges support transfer students vary. In the end students will need to do a lot of research and planning in order to make their transfer experience as smooth as possible. Preparation is the most important step, according to Viles.
“These degrees are very helpful and save a lot of money if they’re planned properly,” said Viles.