At a military-friendly school, your experience in the service can help you earn a college degree.

legs and feet in camoflage and boots marching in formationServing in the U.S. Armed Forces is a true challenge requiring hard work and plenty of discipline. After you leave the service—or if you’re still on active duty or maintain other military commitments—you should have every opportunity to find success. A college degree can give you the advantage you need. But do you have to start from the beginning, or does your military experience count as part of your education? The answer depends on the university you select. Fortunately, there are military-friendly schools that will give you course credit for certain military experience, while offering an environment where you can excel as a student.

What to Look for in a Military-Friendly School

For several reasons, many of the best colleges for active or veteran members of the armed services are online universities. First, online universities are often geared toward adult learners with more life experience. If you’re a veteran or on active duty, you’re likely to be older than the typical undergraduate at a campus-based university, whereas more than 80% of online college students are over the age of 24.* Additionally, at online colleges, military veterans and armed forces service members can take advantage of online learning’s flexibility and convenience. While you earn your degree, you can hold down a job, continue your service commitments, and live anywhere you choose.

Despite these advantages, not all online universities offer the same benefits. Look for a school that specifically offers online degrees for military personnel. Military-friendly schools have programs and practices in place designed to support active-duty personnel, veterans, and their families. Here are few things to look for in a school:

  1. Communication
    Make sure the faculty, staff, and mentors understand the needs of veterans and active-duty service members. If you are dealing with physical limitations, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other challenges resulting from your service, you need a school that respects and accommodates those needs. Likewise, if you prefer to keep your veteran status a private matter between you and your instructors, you want a school that respects that as well. The goal is your academic success, and the key is finding a school that knows how to build collaborative relationships with veterans.
  2. Resources
    Success begins with a good support system. You should seek out a school that has services in place to help you—and all students, for that matter—with needs like writing and research. You should also look for mentoring services, tutoring services, and an online library. Such support systems can make a significant difference in your ability to earn your degree.
  3. Credit Opportunities
    A military-friendly school will give you the opportunity to turn military experience into course credit. While no school can promise credit until they review your experience, you should verify that your preferred college accepts credits from DANTES (which stands for Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support), Joint Services Transcript, and the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). The school should also offer credit for military training and from national testing programs you’ve completed while serving in the military.

Choosing the Right School for You

If you want to earn your degree at a school that offers online degrees for military personnel, you should consider Walden University. As a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, Walden is a university where military veterans can excel. In fact, G.I. Jobs named Walden to its 2015 list of Military Friendly Schools®, which honors the top 15% of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students. In short, Walden not only offers credit for a wide variety of military experience, it has the policies, practices, and support systems you need to earn your degree and succeed in your life outside the military.

*EdTech: Focus on Higher Learning, Who Is the Average Online College Student?, on the Internet at www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2014/05/who-average-online-college-student-infographic.

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