Finding the time to study or attend college during the day, evening, or online is challenging enough for an active duty service member, but for a spouse of an active duty service member who may manage the household or work outside of the home, or both, finding the time to complete your educational goals can seem like a dream. Finding the time to go back to school doesn’t have to be a dream though.
One common theme among military spouses is that they would like to pursue a career specific degree, (for example, teaching, nursing, or engineering), but it is too difficult to complete during one tour of duty. By the time your household goods are unpacked and the kids are settled into school, you might have 2-3 years (if you are lucky) before your next PCS move is on the horizon.
If you are just beginning your college experience, consider enrolling in one of the community colleges in your area. Community colleges often offer smaller class sizes, less expensive tuition, and flexible class schedules during the day, evening and weekends. An even more flexible option is to take online classes offered at a school like American Military University. Taking classes online is a perfect way for a spouse to continue their education without interruption. You can continue your studies at an online university free from PCS uncertainties. With good planning, you could potentially earn the majority of your first two years of a bachelor’s degree to be used in transfer for a career specific degree.
For the spouse who has a number of general education courses in hand, start by researching your future program of study at several institutions. It is unlikely that all programs will be exactly the same; however, you will quickly find that most will have some similarities. For example, in writing this article, I chose the University of Rhode Island, Old Dominion University, and Arizona State with the thought that I might want to earn a bachelor’s in nursing in the future. While this is in no way a guarantee, I quickly found that I could take English, math, science, social science, and other related general education courses at all three institutions in order to prepare for possible transfer in the future. All totaled, I could have completed 27 SH of credit that could potentially transfer into one of the three schools. Even if you were to lose a couple classes in transferring to your final institution, you will be in a better position to complete your degree in less time; something always appealing to military spouses.
No matter what choice you make, pick the school that offers the best solution for you whether it is about cost, a flexible class schedule, available classes, etc. Remember, don’t over extend yourself. You might only be able to take one course at a time. That’s OK! “Walk before you run.”
Share your story! How did you accomplish your educational goals while your spouse is/was on active duty?
About the Author:
John is the Director for Military Outreach at American Military University (AMU). Prior to joining AMU, John served as an Education Services Specialist for Marine Corps Base Twenty-nine Palms California, Director of Career Services and Job Placement at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort South Carolina, Education Services Specialist for Navy College Programs, Sicily, Italy, Academic Advisor for undecided students and student athletes at the University of Rhode Island, and John served as a Naval Hospital Corpsman, Fleet Marine Forces.
John earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences and Services, and a Master of Science in College Student Personnel from the University of Rhode Island. John is married to Captain Dianne DeVoll Aldrich, USN (RET).