JANUARY 29, 2020 – Many people sacrifice their desire to serve in the military because they worry that it will be too difficult to earn a degree when they complete service. Others choose to serve and then worry about returning to school afterwards. If you have found yourself struggling with a similar dilemma, here are resources that will actually help you earn your degree while you are in the military.
There are many financial aid options available for those who have served in the military, and there are a few options reserved only for those who are currently serving. One common myth is that the military itself frowns on pursuing education while enlisted. In fact, every branch of the military offers its own Tuition Assistance for enlisted members currently pursuing education. Check with your branch to find out about its exact options and requirements. Active duty members are also eligible for Tuition Assistance Top-Up, when Veteran Affairs (VA) covers certain costs left over after Tuition Assistance. As active duty, you are also eligible for the GI Bill, which covers costs of certain specific types of training. Check out this guide provided by VA Benefits for more information about each of these types of aid.
On-Base and Online Learning
Part of the reason why so many active duty members put their degrees on the back burner is because it is difficult to attend traditional college while you are serving. You might be relocated, and your schedule changes frequently. If you are flexible in the classes you take and the degree you ultimately earn, you will benefit from taking on-base courses. They are the most convenient, because they are built into your service life. Professors work around your service schedule, and you ever have to leave base. An online university for military personnel is another great option. While the program is separate from your base and therefore requires a bit more creativity in scheduling and requires you to purchase materials, you have more courses and majors to choose from.
Podcasts and Audiobooks
Active service members are even more pressed for time than civilians who are working full time while pursuing a degree. One of the best ways to maximize time is to listen to podcasts audiobooks from the field which you are studying. With the podcast and audiobook becoming increasingly popular, you can find a ton of legitimate information in this format on any subject you are studying. This helps you turn boring commutes and waiting in long lines into study sessions. Many podcasts and audiobooks are available for free or just a few bucks, especially if you have a buddy you can share them with.
Military Student Support
If you choose to earn your degree from a program not affiliated with your base, choose one that has a thriving Military Student Support system in place. Many colleges and universities, both traditional and online, offer services and groups specifically for military students. Resources include tailored academic tutoring and mentoring, financial planning, unique mental and physical health services, and peer support groups that help you connect with other students in your same situation.
They always say that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Perhaps this is true in the dessert world, but not when it comes to pursuing your degree while serving in the military. With these resources in your pocket, you can serve a successful term in the military and emerge with a degree and all the tools you need to pursue your next careers.
Article by Lizzie Weakley
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.