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A.A. degree - Should I even bother?

  1. Aug 3, 2009 #1
    Before deciding to pursue physics I was on track to complete an A.A. in business admin. As it stands I have 4 more classes If I still wish to do so. However, being that I'm now completely uninterested in anything even remotely related to this discipline, I don't think I can stomach it. I'm getting all kinds of crap from family and friends about not finishing it, as they seem to think it will do my resume good. Does anyone think I should suck it up and finish it if only for the sole purpose of padding my resume? Or would I be better served sticking to my extremely demanding physics lower division requirements and knocking those out instead?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2009 #2
    Can you use those last four business admin classes toward another degree (like maybe liberal arts electives)?
  4. Aug 3, 2009 #3
    Unfortunately my selection is limited to accounting 1A/1B and economics macro/micro, so I don't think they would be applicable anywhere else. A part of me feels like I should complete it so that it wasn't a waste of time but right now I'm just too focused on all my lower math/chem/physics classes to go back to it.
  5. Aug 3, 2009 #4


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    My opinion is that an A.A. degree in most fields (not all, just most) is not important, but completing an A.A. degree does no harm. Would an A.A. degree impress any prospective future employers? Do you learn any significant skills from the courses toward that A.A. degree, which you did not yet complete? Would earning a certificate instead of the A.A. degree be just as good? The rest of my opinion is that engaging more fully in your Mathematics and Phyics courses to make a strong start in the science & enineering path is more important and more useful.
  6. Aug 4, 2009 #5
    I have an A.A. degree in liberal arts and sciences (I took enough community college classes in high school to get it along with my diploma). It was helpful in the sense that having the credits waived all my generals, allowing me to take almost exclusively science and math classes for four years. But the degree itself has never been of any use to me. I don't even list it on my resume. Now, liberal arts and sciences is basically a degree in generals, and maybe a BA degree would be slightly more useful. However, it seems to me that those four extra classes is a waste of time that you could be spending on physics and math classes.

    That said, you mentioned that you're doing lower division physics classes. This means that you're probably taking sequence courses, thus you can only take one at a time. I guess if it's important to you, you could take one or two business classes on the side, and finish the AA in a year.
  7. Aug 4, 2009 #6
    Alcoholics Anonymous offer bachelors now?

    Or is that the Automobile Association?
  8. Aug 4, 2009 #7
    Once you have a BSc an A.A. will look like very small beer. As you can't face boring accountancy classes (who can blame you!) then I'd pack in the A.A. Boring classes will just drain energy from you, and you'll need all your energy to get a physics degree! I've helped appoint people to computer science research posts. In such circumstances a BSc in physics stands out on the resume, an A.A. counts for nothing.
  9. Aug 4, 2009 #8
    Thanks for the advice everyone.The responses here just validated what I was thinking all along about the degree not holding any significant value outside of covering space on your wall. However If I still decide to get it,Arunma kind of hit the nail on the head as to how I would do it. I was also thinking that because everything is sequential I'll be limited with how much I can take and therefore freed up for these 4 classes. Looking more closely at these required classes I found out I can take CIS, Calculus and Stats which would account for the units needed for the degree. Being that these are not outside the realm of scientific study I will probably be able to stay interested!
  10. Aug 5, 2009 #9


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    Being Canadian, I have no idea what an Associate's Degree is. I suspect that it's probably a 2-year Community College / Vocational / Tech Diploma sort of thing. I'll go against the grain because I like playing devil's advocate, and because I tend to be cautious / conservative in what I do.

    As an undergrad, I took Intro Economics (for Engineers!) Two concepts from there seem to come to mind:
    1) Sunk Costs
    2) Opportunity Cost

    Sunk Costs are time / money you've invested into something that you're never going to get back. It's gone, finito, non-recoverable, and shouldn't factor into your economic decision making, in order to allow you to evaluate (economic) decisions on their own merits (and maximize utility, or economic benefit), without regards to what you've already done. Basically, gussied up formulation of "Don't go chasing good money after bad"

    Wasn't I going to take a contrary position? You've already spent 3 semesters taking this, why waste another semester? Because, unless you've already been accepted and are about to start classes in a few months, your possible alternatives are:
    • Do nothing (vacation)
    • Spend another semester finishing this degree
    • Work (or work more), while biding your time

    Hedging against the possibility that the physics thing might not work out, and on the assumption that an AA in business admin would get you a better job (doing business admin) than without, and lead to greater economic benefit than just working (or working more) at whatever job you have / can get, finishing off the degree (in light of the assumptions made above) is the good economic decision. It's the equivalent of passing go, and collecting $200; a fall-back plan, just in case.

    That of course presumes that your utility (a.k.a. personal benefit / happiness) won't be severely hampered, and leave you extremely depressed or some such. Or that the 'vacation' won't improve that utility.

    Opportunity Cost is closely related to the above. Basically, how much benefit would you get from doing the next best thing (and identifying what that next best thing, or ranking of next best things, happens to be). If you've already been accepted to Physics School, great, go for it!--It'll maximize your utility, if not necessarily your earnings potential (if you decide to go the academic route, and not go to Wall Street or some such).

    If you haven't been accepted (or are guaranteed admission), and aren't starting your degree in September, then would you be working, or working more at whatever job you have / get? Would you instead be doing nothing? Would you perhaps be preparing for your SATs? (in an ideal world, you wouldn't be able to prepare for the SATs, and should get consistent results; however, we live in a non-ideal world). Would you be working through Physics textbooks and problems, and try to understand what's going on? (This might have the added benefit of telling you whether or not you want to do math / physics problems, and self-learning, or whether or not your interest in Physics is just a passing interest). Are these better (in terms of your utility) than going for a final semester?

    So ultimately, good luck, don't count your chickens before they hatch, and all the best, whatever you decide. Also, thanks for letting me dig out my first-year Econ material!
  11. Aug 6, 2009 #10
  12. Aug 6, 2009 #11


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    Now that I've Googled for Associate's Degree + Alberta, it looks like you can get those in Criminal Justice or Nursing in this province, both of which I presume are self-contained. Now I'm quite confused; is this degree a terminal trade school program (as I'd assumed), or a University (and Bachelor's) transfer program? If it's the latter (University Transfer) and you have no intentions of transferring, it's obviously not as good as the former. Still, something to show up on your resume, and a Pass Go / Collect $200 kinda thing (especially if you're not doing anything better).
  13. Aug 6, 2009 #12
    My impression is that some BC Universities offer direct transfer to year 3 if you do the right 2-year Associate program at a smaller college. However, I assume it is mainly a way to bail after 2 years and still get a piece of paper...
  14. Aug 9, 2009 #13
    Wow, thanks for your perspective on my dilemma MATLAB. You definitely brought up some great questions with those two concepts. After thinking about it, I decided to go ahead and finish the degree. I'm so very close and I've never been one to be satisfied leaving something unfinished. If nothing else (and as you have pointed out) at least I will have accomplished something if physics doesn't work out. These classes really aren't going to distract me too much as long as I take a few at a time. I do have a question though. I was going to do all 4 classes this semester and just get the degree but I found out that some math courses that I'll take Calculus and Stats (1 year away from finishing calculus prereq's), will account for two of these 4 classes. So does anything think I should wait a year and use the Calculus/Stats units toward the degree instead of taking 2 other business related classes before then and finishing? I'm not exactly sure I want to wait 1.5 years (after completing Calculus) before finishing this degree.
  15. Aug 9, 2009 #14


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    (I'm working under the assumption that you want to take the calculus and stats courses at the university as part of your first year physics classes).

    I'm guessing your pre-Calculus classes don't count then? Unless those are the other two classes that you're taking. If all four of your remaining classes are just math, and that's the part you're unable to stand, I have bad news for you: physics (beyond one or two intro / survey classes) is almost all math (though mostly of the algebraic / calculus sort, and not the computational sort). I say this just to make sure we're on the same page here.

    Now, if Calculus and Stats do count towards either/both of your degrees (and you only have to take them once), the no-brainer seems to be to take the other two classes, and then sit pretty until you take the other two.

    Now here's the catch: GET IT IN WRITING (from the Dean's / Registrar's office) that you're able to use the Calculus / Stats classes that you're taking as part of your first year of Physics to apply towards your Associate's in Business (and make absolutely certain to say where it is that you're taking these classes). I'd go as far as to explicitly state which course numbers these are, and provide the course description, if necessary.

    Now here's the opportunity: talk to the admissions office of the physics B.Sc. program you want to apply to. See if any of the courses you can take at the school you're currently at are worth credit, and transfer over. If there are any, take these while you can: community college is cheaper, and class sizes are lower (and heck, sometimes, but not always, the books and food are cheaper too!) Again, GET THIS IN WRITING!!! Then, when you get in, you have to take fewer classes (if any transfer over).

    EDIT: Just my 2c; use advice at your own risk, no liability / responsibility implied / offered, etc.
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