June 20, 2017, by Cher Zevala – You’ve decided to pursue an advanced degree, and you’ve even realized that online education is the way to go. Indeed, most active service members find that the flexibility of online classes allows them to attend every lecture and meet every deadline – even while they are deployed a world away. Still, deciding between traditional and online school is just the beginning of the battle (so to speak). Now, you need to choose what you are going to study.
Your degree will directly impact your career options after your service period ends. Therefore, you should be careful to choose a program that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Plus, you must be certain that the degree you seek is available from online universities; many courses, like many fine arts, simply cannot exist in the digital environment. This guide should help you find an online degree program that suits your interests, your needs, and your future.
First, Consider Your Career Goals
Few service members commit to a lifetime in the military, and if you are planning to obtain a degree, you are likely considering a non-military career. Imagining yourself in that civilian career is vital to determining the course of your schooling. For example, if you see yourself as a novelist, reading and writing books for a living, you probably don’t need more than an associate or bachelor-level English degree. However, if you want to reach the C-suite of a Fortune 500 company or hope to open your own business, you should pursue the best online MBA you can find and afford.
Some questions you might ask yourself to determine your career goals are:
- What kind of lifestyle do you envision for yourself in five years? In 10 years?
- Do/will you have dependents you need to support?
- What motivates you to do work?
- What are your strengths in employment? Your weaknesses?
- If you could have any job, what would you do?
While pondering these issues, you should focus on concepts like wealth, respect, fame, and other intangible earnings you might receive from a successful career. Ultimately, what you want should be the primary determinant of where you go for your degree program.
Then, Consider Your Personal Interests
Still, if you want to be a lawyer but cannot dredge up a modicum of curiosity for dense legal writing, you might not follow through with obtaining your degree, let alone becoming successful in your career. Therefore, you must also consider your personal interests before committing to a particular program.
Determining your interests should be easier than deciding upon your career goals: All you have to do is reflect on what makes you happy. You can make a list of your hobbies, your favorite subjects in grade school, or subjects of books that hold your interest. Ideally, you can find a way to align these interests with your career goals. For example, if you want to be a business mogul, but you find it difficult to focus on finance, you might work toward an MBA in marketing, instead.
It is important to note that you do not have to be passionate about your area of study, and you do not need to be in love with your job to have a successful career. In fact, many people who try to transform a hobby into a profession end up disliking an activity that once brought them joy. This is why your goals are more important than your interests in determining the course of your education – and your career.
Finally, Consider Your School Options
After you know what you want to study – and what you can and will do with your degree afterward – it is easy to find the school that is right for you. Active service members and veterans alike tend to gravitate toward online education, which provides more flexibility and requires less travel than traditional, on-campus programs. Plus, many online schools are less expensive, though, with the GI Bill and other military education benefits, you might not have much concern about that.
Most traditional universities have created online versions of many of their programs, but even Ivy League schools might not provide the environment (or quality) you want or need. While searching for schools offering your program, you should consider requirements for admittance, accreditation, program ranking, and more to ensure you are getting the best education for you.
Author Bio: Cher Zavala is a content coordinator who assists in contributing quality articles on various topics including career advice, education, and business development. Cher has built up many strong relationships over the years within the blogging community and loves sharing her useful tips with others.