For military families, military spouse employment is consistently ranked as one of the top concerns. In a 2013 survey of military spouses, 68% of spouses who responded indicated that their military affiliation had a negative impact on their ability to pursue a career or receive a consistent education. The top contributor to this impact is the uncertainty of deployment or relocation. Frequent moves, deployments, and family separations are just a few obstacles that military spouses face when trying to complete a degree.
One great solution for getting around these obstacles is online education, but is online education right for you?
Online education allows a military spouse to earn a degree from anywhere and learn on his or her own time. Living the military spouse lifestyle often means being mobile and ready to shift directions when least expected. An online education allows a spouse to endure these uncertainties. When deciding if online education is right for you, there are five key factors to consider:
1. Is the college a non-profit? This is an important factor in the type of school you choose. A for profit institution is just that, a business looking to make a profit and the quality of the education will reflect the college’s business practices. It's best to choose a non-profit college, as many times the profits are reinvested in the school. One rule of thumb is to look at the advertising on TV. If the school has a lot of commercials, it is probably is a for profit college and does not have your interests at heart. Use the old adage; follow the money. Some colleges will take your cash and leave you with a degree worth little more than the paper it’s printed on.
2. Is the college accredited? When you begin your search for an online program, make sure the college or institution is accredited. In the early years of online schools, many ‘diploma mills’ popped up and took advantage of unsuspecting students. These schools had no real accreditation as educators, and graduating the programs meant little in the end. Many employers will only recognize an accredited online degree awarded by an accredited college. Look for schools with accreditation and do research on the institutions that are accrediting the school for legitimacy. The Distance Education and Training Council is a well-known accreditor and there are many out there approving schools. Research is your best friend in making sure the school you choose is accredited.
3. Investigate universities that are more than just online. With the advent of the Internet, many well known universities have classes online to provide alternative to students on campus for convenience. Take advantage of these online classes as many of them are inexpensive and will give you credits toward your diploma. You will be able to use a four-year college program on your résumé to boost your earned education.
4. Can you transfer credits? The chance of a program or credit transfer between schools is higher when the school is accredited, which is an important consideration if your online education is only the first step in a larger plan. As a military spouse, this gives you the freedom to take classes on campus at a college or university if you relocate. You will be able to experience a wider array of class options and continue your education at any institution.
5. How much does it cost? Online education usually costs less than an on-campus education, but check the fine print on all online education websites. There may be hidden costs that add up quickly. As a military spouse, you have the opportunity to qualify for scholarships and services not available to civilians. Check with your on base resources or even your insurance company for low cost loans.
This post was provided by SpouseLink. SpouseLink is a free website for Military Spouses that was created to support, inform and inspire users with a variety of content--anything from pop culture to important Military information. SpouseLink.org was created by AAFMAA, a non-profit, membership association that supports the American Armed Forces community with affordable insurance and widow survivor assistance services.