From Bachelor’s to Associate: Switching Gears for a Specialized Career

Student Success Melissa Blog

Just because you get a bachelor’s degree, doesn’t mean that’s the final step in the journey. Sure, you can advance to higher education, like a master’s or doctorate, but for some students, they finish that four-year program and realize the career direction they’ve started down isn’t right for them. For Melissa, she had her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, or the study of movement in the human body. And while she always knew she wanted to help people, she never really knew how.

“After I graduated with my bachelor’s, I found a job as a physical therapy technician and just fell in love with it and decided that the associate route for physical therapy assistant would be a better choice for me – rather than going back for a doctorate,” Melissa said.

Melissa enrolled at Tidewater Community College and got involved in the physical therapist assistant program. The program is a two-year, applied associate degree program that leads students through the training and education right up to taking the boards – passing – and obtaining the license to practice in Virginia. The good news for Melissa? This program is eligible for G3 tuition assistance.

“It’s a really challenging, fun program to be in,” she said. “I think that having a fulfilling career is the most important thing, and it’s cheesy, but they say find something that you love to do and you never work a day in your life. So, I’m just really grateful that I found something that I really enjoy doing.”

The physical therapy program is fun, but intense. In addition to the program’s courses, students must also have their certification in CPR, there are prerequisites like HLT 130 Nutrition and Diet Therapy, PSY 230 Developmental Psychology and BIO 141 Human Anatomy, among others – and there is also 40 hours of clinical observation before you can get your diploma. Check with your local community college for specific details.

With programs like physical therapy, there are intensive with prerequisites, clinicals and board certifications. Worrying about tuition should be the last thing on your mind.

“It’s important for people to know that G3 is even an option because I had no idea,” Melissa said. “I think if people know that it’s an option, it also makes choosing to go back to school a lot less scary than it can be knowing that you’re going to take on student loans. And a lot of these health programs that the G3 grant provides assistance for, you can’t really work during them. I just think that it’s important for people to know that it’s an option and that it’s there.”

Melissa attended Tidewater Community College. If you’d like to see if you’re eligible for G3 tuition assistance, contact your local community college to get started.