There are many paths to becoming a registered nurse, and none are inherently better than others. You know what you want to do, but what's the best way to get there? The primary ways one would become a nurse is through a bachelors degree in nursing from a 4 year university or an associates degree from a community college. Both a bachelors and an associates will get your foot into the door and help you become an RN, but what are the differences?
Advantages of an Associate's Degree
1. Lower Cost
On average a degree from a 4 year university is going to cost you more than a 2 or 3 year program at a community college. Average tuition at a community college can cost you as little as $3,500 a year while a 4 year university will run you closer to $10,000, not taking into account room and board.
2. More Flexibility
If you currently work full time then an associates is generally a better route. Community college offers much more flexibility when scheduling classes and tend to cater to less traditional students such as those who are coming back to school as an adult who typically have a busier life than the average student. Community colleges are also pioneers in the field of online schooling. An online degree allows you to take classes from the comfort of your home which great for those with full time jobs or children.
3. Build Relationships
Classes at a community college are generally smaller with a better student to teacher ratio. Because of the smaller class size you will have more one on one interaction with your professors and an easier time standing out from your peers. Being able to go to your professor with issues or questions and not being brushed off because they have a hundred other students to deal with is priceless.
Advantages of a Bachelor's Degree
1. Career Guidance
A 4 year university will typically have a dedicated careers office where you can talk to someone with experience in the field and knowledge of the current job market. Your career counselor can help you find job openings and help you tailor your resume for the jobs your applying to.
2. Extra Curriculars
Many jobs want to see more than just a degree, whether it be associates or bachelors. At a 4 year university you will have better access to extra curricular societies and volunteer opportunities which will make your resume more attractive to potential employers. In addition many universities will help place you in an internship which gives you valuable work experience for your resume before you've even graduated.
3. More Job Opportunities
An RN with a bachelor's degree is going to qualify for more senior positions down the line. Jobs like nurse practitioner and senior management positions will likely require a BS. This potential for increased earnings helps offset the cost of attending a 4 year university.
As you can see both paths have their advantages and disadvantages. The only person who can decide what approach is the best fit is you. At the end of the day, bachelor's or associate's, you will still be an registered nurse helping people and doing what you love.