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Considerations for How Members of the Military Can Choose a University
Military servicemembers can face unique challenges when it comes to earning a degree. Those on active duty have to juggle military responsibilities with academic work and must anticipate the possibility of being transferred or deployed partway through their degree program. Veterans may have more flexibility in terms of the time they can commit to coursework, but may have difficulties finding a university that focuses on real-world learning and skills that can be immediately applied to build career success.
To ensure the best experience at a college or university, military personnel and veterans should evaluate potential institutions based on three key criteria: academic policies, military support services, and learning format.
It’s important to evaluate any potential college or university based on its academic rigor and reputation. Is the institution highly regarded in your field of interest? Will the courses prepare you for the next step in your career? If the answers are yes, keep it on your list.
Then, take the vetting a step further by evaluating the school’s policies on transfer credits, if you have some from a previous institution. Also, be sure to ask whether the school accepts American Council on Education (ACE) credit, which will enable you to earn college credit for portions of your military experience and put you a step closer to graduation.1
If you have a passion for making the world a better place, another important question to ask is, “Are graduates of my degree program making an impact in their field and making a difference in their communities and society?” The answer will give you a sense of whether an institution’s perspective on social change is aligned with your own.
Military Support Services
Many colleges and universities offer tuition reduction opportunities for military students or veterans. Ask about what’s available, and whether the school participates in the U.S. military’s tuition assistance (TA) and Yellow Ribbon programs.
If you’re on active duty, be sure to find out the institution’s policy on taking a leave of absence. Many schools offer a Military Leave of Absence (MLOA) on request, allowing you to take a break from your studies without negative consequences to your grades or financial situation, should military service interfere with your studies. You may also want to see if the university offers competency-based learning, which allows you to work at your own pace.
Whether you’re considering an online university or a physical campus, find out if the school has a dedicated support office for military personnel or veterans. And ask about student organizations geared toward military personnel—connecting with other military servicemembers can be an essential source of camaraderie and support.
Campus Location and Learning Formats
If a university happens to be located near the base where you work, a traditional setting may be right for you. However, for many military servicemembers, it’s not that simple. Military personnel often have changing work schedules that don’t always allow for a structured campus-based schedule. And of course, for those who could be transferred overseas, flexible options for higher education are key.
In such cases, earning your degree online can be a practical solution. Online higher education is flexible and convenient, allowing military servicemembers to study and participate in courses from anywhere in the world. Accredited online colleges such as Walden University offer a wide variety of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Many of Walden’s programs align closely with military occupations—for example, counseling, psychology, social work, public administration, nursing, and health sciences. Walden is also home to more than 5,100 military students and has support specialists available to help you with enrollment, career counseling, and navigating financial aid, among other services.
Regardless of your military branch, earning a degree is a great way to set your course for the future, and online learning can provide a clear path.
Walden University is an accredited institution that supports military personnel and veterans by providing you with a flexible way to earn your degree online.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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