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Active Duty and Online Learning: Strategies for Advancing Your Education While Serving Your Country

Military personnel can plan for the future by earning a degree from an accredited online university.

Each year, thousands of the more than 1.3 million active duty U.S. military servicemembers, including those on deployment, earn college degrees online.1 If you’re thinking about joining their ranks, one of the most important steps you can take is to enroll in an accredited online college that offers the flexibility and support military students like you need.

As you review your options for advancing your education at online colleges that serve military students, here are some key points to consider:

Active Duty and Online Learning: Strategies for Advancing Your Education While Serving Your Country

I’m on Active Duty. Do I Have Time for Online Education?

Civilian and military adult learners embrace online education for the freedom, flexibility, variety, and opportunity it affords. With a laptop and an internet connection, you can earn a degree while stationed in Japan, South Korea, Afghanistan, the United States, or wherever your military career may take you.

Walden University, which for 50 years has supported working professionals in achieving their academic goals, offers more than 80 degree programs with more than 300 specializations and concentrations. Students from across the U.S. and more than 120 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees online at Walden.

While most accredited online colleges allow you to complete your coursework at times that are convenient for you, students should plan on committing one to two hours each day to their studies.

And did you know that your military experience can help boost your success in earning a degree online? Research shows that many of the top attributes of servicemen and servicewomen also contribute to their success as military students. These traits include self direction, accountability, responsibility, and maturity.2

What Should I Look for in an Online College that serve Military Students?

First, you’ll want to make sure that the college you’re considering is an accredited online university and offers the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program you seek. Next, spend some time assessing the school’s commitment to teaching military students. The best online schools offer a learning community that will support military students like you throughout your educational journey.

For David Ramos, veteran of the U.S. military, accreditation and available degrees topped his list of must-haves during his college search.

“I researched multiple schools. Walden seemed like a great value due to its reasonable cost and had everything I was looking for in accreditation,” said Ramos, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing online from Walden’s nursing school. “I also had intentions of continuing my education past my bachelor's degree, and Walden has the master's program I am interested in. I figured it would be best to take my undergraduate at the same school as my graduate to keep things smooth.”

Walden’s commitment to the men and women of the military is well known. According to the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA), there were more than 5,900 military affiliated students enrolled at Walden in the 2018–19 academic year. Walden’s comprehensive military student support begins with the Military Services Team. You can schedule a one on one session with a military specialist who can help answer your questions.

The school’s dedicated support services include a specialist to guide you through enrollment, a Student Success Advisor to support you the rest of the way, and 24 hour support services to accommodate unpredictable schedules. Walden’s Student Veterans Association chapter provides military learners with peer to peer support, empowering students to achieve academic success.

On Walden’s Military Services Team website, you’ll also find links to sites for new students and military students already working on their college degrees. You’ll also find information about policies and procedures, frequently asked questions, and benefits and financial aid.

The university’s support of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen doesn’t end at graduation. Through the greater SVA network, students have access to approximately 750,000 fellow military students who can help support the transition to education and employment.

Walden’s SVA chapter also commits itself to fostering positive social change through activities like a panel discussion highlighting the impact of female veterans in their communities. Veterans’ affairs play a central role in Walden’s Global Days of Service activities, too. A cemetery beautification project and events addressing veteran homelessness are among past projects.

What Are the Options for Funding My College Degree?

Having the right financial pieces in place can provide peace of mind as you earn a degree online. As you plan your academic path, you’ll want to consider all available options. Military students have access to numerous resources and funding options from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The military offers you the opportunity to go to school while you are on active duty, in fact, they encourage you to go to school and get a degree,” said Dr. George Zangaro, dean of the College of Nursing at Walden. He earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree during his 25-year career in the U.S. Navy. “They also will pay for all or most of the degree in exchange for additional years of service.”

Walden also can provide information on federal financial aid and external scholarships for military students, like the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship. The Fry Scholarship provides Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to the children and surviving spouses of servicemembers who died in the line of duty while on active duty after September 10, 2001. Tuition reduction opportunities also may be available.

Launch Your Online Education Today

Earning a degree online can help provide a smooth transition to a rewarding civilian career. And your military service—Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or Navy—can be the springboard to take you there.

“One of the most important things to remember is that there are many educational opportunities available in the military, and it is up to you to be motivated and take advantage of them,” Dr. Zangaro said. “Doing so will allow you to be well positioned for a job when you leave the military.”

With winning strategies in place, you can advance your education while serving your country at home or abroad.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering certificate programs and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

1Source: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-learning-lessons/articles/2018-03-09/choose-an-online-degree-program-as-an-active-duty-military-student
2Source: https://jolt.merlot.org/vol7no1/starr glass_0311.pdf

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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