Know Your Options: Two-Year Degrees

By Maci England on Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Madison Ogle

Jake Phillips

Age: 21 | Hometown: North Little Rock
High School: North Little Rock High School
Higher Education: Arkansas State University-Beebe
Working toward: A long-term career in the agriculture industry

Attending a four-year institution was not something Jake Phillips was interested in. He wanted to graduate fast and get a head start on a career in agriculture. He also wanted to go somewhere with small class sizes.

This option is for you if:
• You want to save money on core classes
• You want to graduate and get a job quickly
• You want to live at home (or close)

When he discovered the John Deere Agricultural Technology program at Arkansas State University-Beebe, Jake knew it was the right school for him. With fewer than 10 students per class, Jake felt confident that he was getting the attention he needed to succeed.

“This allowed a lot more one-on-one time with instructors to ask questions and be more engaged,” Jake said. “You can be more focused and have less distractions.”

Jake earned an associate degree in agricultural equipment technology and received training in hydraulic diagnostics, electrical diagnostics and more. He now uses his education working as an agricultural technician at Greenway Equipment.

“The program allowed me to gain base knowledge that I can further advance through day-to-day work,” Jake said. “As a technician, you learn something new every day.”

He wants students to consider two-year schools because of the perks: a fast track to a career (which saves money!) and the learning benefits afforded by smaller class sizes.

“A four-year college has more students and this leads to a higher classroom volume,” Jake said. “...At the John Deere program in Beebe, the classroom size was managed very well with about six to eight students per class…For me, it was the class sizes and atmosphere that sold me.”

What You Need to Know

The advantages of a two-year degree versus a four-year are pretty obvious: it takes two years less time, it costs two-years less in tuition and college-related expenses, and you'll be working in the real world two years sooner. Not to mention, many of the jobs requiring an associate degree are in major demand, meaning you'll have an easy job search, great job security and a big salary.

The average annual cost of in-state tuition at an Arkansas community college is $3,390, according to Don't forget that these two-year schools offer a lot of financial aid and scholarship options, including some specific to your career path.

Admissions Requirements
Associate degree programs typically require a high school diploma or equivalent. Colleges may also expect students to have a specific minimum GPA and to complete their state’s pre-college curriculum, which often includes English, math and science courses.

Most two-year colleges do not offer on-campus living, so you might want to consider saving your money by living at home.