An undergraduate degree or bachelor’s degree (BA or AB) is the first university degree that you earn after completing secondary school and applying to college or university.

A BA or AB usually takes three to four years to complete. If you’re still not sure what type of undergraduate degree you should pursue, use these tips on what to know before you decide on an undergraduate degree.


Why get an undergraduate degree?

We’ve all heard it before: Get a degree. It’ll help you get a job. But in today’s knowledge-based economy, having a college education can be valuable for other reasons as well: in 2014, 77% of students with at least a bachelor’s degree reported they were employed, compared with only 34% of those without one.

However, if you don’t plan accordingly, you could end up spending years studying something that doesn’t make sense for your future.


Can I graduate without a GPA?

Each university has different requirements, but most don’t require a minimum GPA for graduation. So, if you’re a 2.5 GPA student and are about to graduate, congrats! As long as you fulfill your requirements, you will be walking across that stage with some pretty big pompoms.

That being said, there are still ways for 2.5 GPA students to stand out from their peers even with their less-than-stellar GPAs (isn’t college fun?). If you have a passion or talent (like songwriting) and want to get involved in extracurricular activities like clubs or sports teams, now is a great time to do so.


How do I choose what major to study?

Choosing a major can be one of your biggest headaches during college. Many students choose their majors based off of their first-year classes, without doing any research beforehand. This doesn’t work because all classes are not created equal!

If you find yourself struggling in a class, it’s important to ask yourself: Does my major require taking lots of difficult, challenging classes like this? Am I willing and able to take difficult classes as part of my degree? If not, then it might be wise to rethink your major or switch schools.

There is nothing wrong with changing your mind—after all, it’s just four years; how much impact can one decision really have?


Who should NOT pursue an undergraduate degree?

Maybe you’re just not interested in earning a degree. Or maybe you already have one. Or three. That’s OK, too! If your passion is learning on your own and never leaving home, don’t feel pressured into pursuing another undergraduate degree.

Instead, develop marketable skills through self-education or by building a business (see below for more). In fact, sometimes it takes a little bit of failure before someone realizes their true calling, so if you decide to pursue some other path before finding yours—it’s cool! It happens.

But know that there are no strict rules when it comes to education and employment; what matters most is that you love what you do and can find others who value your expertise.


Do I have to take the GRE?

There’s a lot of confusion about whether you need to take GRE in order to apply for a graduate program. The answer is: it depends. GRE is more important if you want to get into one of those research-intensive Ph.D. programs at Ivy league universities, but there are other reasons you might need GRE as well.

Typically, though, if your undergraduate GPA and standardized test scores are good, then you don’t really need it. Even with low grades and poor GRE scores, a strong application can help offset these deficiencies (and make up for them), so try not to stress out too much!

There are many factors that go into making up your overall application package—GRE isn’t one of them!


Can I have full-time job while I study for my undergraduate degree?

Yes! Whether you’re looking for a part-time job or an internship, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll manage your life while you’re in school. Having a schedule of classes and extracurricular activities is no different than if you had a full-time job, so be sure that your university doesn’t conflict with your work schedule.

Employers are often more forgiving when they know you have schoolwork; scheduling around classes can help keep full-time positions available for those who don’t have to juggle school and work.

And don’t forget that most universities offer online programs now, which means you could even study while working in some cases! It all depends on what degree program you’re interested in pursuing.


How can I apply at multiple schools at once?

Colleges will usually let you apply early decision or early action if you’ve been accepted under either of these programs. However, early decision and action do require that you notify your top choice school that you’re applying, which means they’ll probably know before schools who only receive your application in regular decision (where they don’t have a chance to counter).

Here’s how it all works: Apply Early Decision/Action: If a college accepts students through their early decision program (ED), you must attend if accepted. Some colleges also offer early action for students who wish to receive notification of admission by mid-December.


What are some common tips when writing a college application essay?

While every school’s application process is unique, a few common tips apply regardless of your specific field of study. For example, it’s important that you carefully proofread your essay before submitting it to ensure that there are no errors in grammar or spelling, and don’t forget to turn in all required documents with your application.

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