An education is like a vehicle that can help take you down the road to success. As a veteran, you’re already well-equipped with valuable skill sets from your service. Great time management, attention to detail, and self-motivation are all wonderful assets when considering the next step, especially if that includes online education. You can channel them into a degree that will help launch you back into civilian life.
Should one go back to school and get a bachelor’s or master’s degree? It’s a big decision. When I returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2002, I chose to tap my Post-9/11 educational benefits and return to college. Looking back, I know I made the right choice for my situation. In fact, I hold a doctorate in my field today, and it has opened more doors for me than I ever knew existed.
Online education and the military presence
It’s important to understand all options that are on the table. The Post/911 GI Bill, for example, can be used to work an apprenticeship, receive one-the-job training, or to fund a college degree. The Post 9/11 GI Bill will help pay tuition and fees. It will even subsidize the cost of housing while you attend school. To find out the maximum benefits available to you, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs online.
If you decide to earn a degree, there are myriad of traditional and non-traditional universities you can choose from. If you prefer learning in a traditional or synchronous environment, you may want to attend a bricks-and-mortar institution. Or if you prefer the flexibility of asynchronous learning, check out an online university. Asynchronous (online) learning is great for those that want to set their own pace, and attend classes on their schedule.
Asynchronous means that you can attend your online class anytime of the day or night to complete your assignments. Essentially, any place that you can take a computer, iPad, laptop, or even a smartphone; you can access your classes. Online education is a great platform for active duty, reserves, and veterans alike, because it helps us to fit a quality education into our hectic and changing schedules.
Network with classmates and peers
Whether you choose an online or traditional university, remember that you’re never alone. At American Military University (AMU) we have a large veteran population we support through social media, and within the classroom. The challenges within this community are widely understood by faculty and administrators and have resulted in individual results and organization-wide practices that are responsive and adaptive to Veterans’ needs.
I also encourage my students to contact the advising staff for guidance. Academic advising can help connect students with a mentor. We have a strong mentoring network that assists students at each step along their degree path. The Global Mentoring Network is a revolutionary distance-mentoring program that offers secure mentoring and networking possibilities to our AMU community. Our staff members excel at helping students with anything from classwork, tutoring services, peer advice, to just general guidance.
It’s a great idea to network with fellow classmates while you’re in school. Utilize social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to get connected with peers in your school and in the career fields that you’re looking to pursue. You also have career assistance options like VOW to Hire Heroes, Vet Success, and your school’s career services group. Think of your university peers as your civilian network. You’ll also want to maintain relationships that you developed while serving. Carrying those connections over into your education will be valuable when you begin to look at new careers.
By Dr. Chris Reynolds
AVP – Dean, Center for Teaching and Learning at American Public University System
Online Learning Tips Special Contributor