JANUARY 25, 2023 – Many military students attend college in the hopes of deepening their knowledge and skill while enhancing their credentials before, during and after active duty. And, like so many traditional students, military students often struggle with deciding upon the focus of their college studies. If you are wondering which degree program to pursue in higher education, here are a few tips to help guide you toward the right decision for your present and future.
All military service involves some type of specialized training. Perhaps you learned how to function as a field medic and gained a basic knowledge of medical care. Perhaps you learned how to regulate and maintain nuclear reactors, or perhaps you took to physical training and have gained a respect and appreciation for the human body. In any case, you should take advantage of the knowledge and skill you gained through your military service and use it as a jumping-off point for your future career.
The military has plenty of coaches and counselors who can help you understand how your service can be translated into value for civilian careers. You might also talk to counselors and coaches available through your college or university. If you can derive a career from the training you received in the military, you can start your degree program and your entire career with more experience and skill than your peers, giving you a greater chance for success.
In addition to the knowledge and skill you gained from your military training, you can and should leverage your military service to pay for your higher education. Military-friendly schools like the University of Arizona offer military tuition discounts and waivers for active-duty service members and veterans. Before you start using your GI benefits, you might consider enrolling in a few online courses using these discounts, so you can identify exactly where your passions and talents lie.
Ideally, you will pursue a degree that will position you well on a career path in a field that is experiencing plenty of growth. Graduating with a degree in a shrinking field is difficult; you will experience cutthroat competition for every available position, and it is unlikely that you will have a high income potential or enviable benefits, even with your service record. Thus, you might spend time researching industries that are expanding and creating more career opportunities for soon-to-be new graduates, like you.
- Solar Power
- Commercial banking
You might look into potential careers within these fields and research what qualifications are required to progress up those career tracks. Many entry-level positions might not require any education credentials, but most likely you will need some form of higher education to move into higher tiers of employment and achieve higher earnings. You might determine which degree programs synergize with your existing knowledge and skill, so you can position yourself with the best potential for success as you enter the job market.
Ultimately, you (probably) only have one life to live, and dedicating it to a dreary career field for the sake of earning potential might not bring you the joy and satisfaction you deserve. If you do not feel passionate about the training you received in the military or any growing industries you discover in your research, you owe yourself the opportunity to explore other interests in higher education.
Too often, service members feel that they have committed to a career using hard skills gained through military training, and they suffer from an inability to exercise their creative energy. After the time and effort you have dedicated to serving your country, you have earned the chance to explore your unique passions — if that is what you truly want to do in your degree program.
Your future is yours to make. Your military service provides ample opportunities to craft the career of your dreams, so you should think long and hard about the knowledge, skills and credentials you should pursue during your time in higher education.