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Online Education and Military Service Are a Great Combination

Being a soldier is both an honor and a privilege for many proud young Americans, and their service is appreciated. As the saying goes, “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.” However, it’s often not the last job that a person will ever have. Many veterans and even active-duty personnel take classes so they can be prepared for their next job, which may or may not be in the armed forces. For these soldiers/students, flexible online programs that award credit for military service are excellent ways to prepare for the future.

These are some of the key signs that an online school is a good option for those with military experience:

  • Involved in the Principles of Excellence Program: Established in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Principles of Excellence Program offers a variety of benefits to students who are currently serving, or who have served. These include clear and personalized education plans, printed forms with total cost of schooling, and contact lists for academic counseling and financial assistance.
  • A Veterans Affairs Office: Whether active or retired, military students have a unique set of needs that are best met by those who share similar experiences. With a campus veteran’s office or affiliation with a local chapter of a veteran’s organization, a school is more qualified to offer the comprehensive services and support military students deserve.
  • Credit for Military Experience: The American Council of Education evaluates military jobs and training, and then assigns a number of credits to this experience that can then be applied to a degree. How many of these credits can then be used is up to the individual schools though, with colleges that cater to military students accepting the most credits.

Whether you’re active duty or a veteran, you have some great financial aid options available to you through the U.S. military. The Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, for instance, both offer up to 48 months of assistance. Specific branches each have their own scholarships too, and there are tuition assistance programs that pay a set dollar amount per credit hour.

Even with all these benefits, there are challenges that military students need to watch out for in order to successfully complete an online degree. For example, for those who miss the camaraderie that’s part and parcel of being a soldier, it’s important to find a sense of community. This can be tough while taking classes online, but there are resources available to you, such as the Student Veterans of America organization.

Also, for those who are accustomed to the military hierarchy, it may be hard to complete coursework on your own schedule. Again, reaching out for support to other military students is a great idea – they will be able to provide you with solutions that have worked for them. If you prefer to go it alone, you may want to try a classic goal-setting strategy: Set semester goals, then monthly goals, then work backward to weekly goals and finally daily routines that will move you incrementally closer to your long-term objectives.