Five Ways Online College Benefits Military Spouses

Ways Online College Benefits Military Spouses - featured image

Military spouses face challenges that are unique to military lifestyle. They deal with deployment schedules, frequent relocations, and financial issues. If you’re married to a military service member and looking to pursue college, enrolling in military spouse schools online will benefit you!

Ways Online College Benefits Military Spouses - fact

We suggest these effective strategies for choosing the best online college as a military spouse. 

Check the school’s accreditation.

Quality education, transferability of credits, and eligibility for federal and state aid are among the benefits of accreditation for online colleges and universities. While national accreditation is acceptable, regional and programmatic accreditations are usually preferred by industries and employers.

Featured Programs

Check the online schools’ regional accreditation at their official websites. Below are the six regional accreditation agencies: 

  • Higher Learning Commission 
  • Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges – Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 
  • New England Commission of Higher Education 
  • Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges 

Make a shortlist of military-friendly colleges.

Of course, every accredited online college is a great choice, particularly if its academic programs, student support services, and graduate outcomes are aligned with your needs. But you should consider the military-specific programs, services and resources of online colleges because these will work to your advantage.

Military-friendly schools like the following accommodate the unique challenges of the military lifestyle:

  • Georgia State University has a Military Outreach Center where military-connected students benefit from support services.
  • Louisiana State University’s William A. Brookshire Military and Veterans Student Center is a one-stop resource for military-connected students. 

Ask about the transferability of credits.

Military spouses know too well the negative impact of frequent relocations on their schooling. That’s why you should look for easy transferability of credits. Besides considering regional accreditation, find out if your college has articulation agreements with other institutions. Articulation agreements facilitate the seamless transfer of credits. Even when you’ve relocated, you can transfer earned credits between your old and new schools and won’t have to retake the courses, saving you time and money.

Find online military schools offering flexible schedules.

Juggling family and work commitments can add to the stress of earning an online degree or certification. You should look for online schools that offer flexible schedules in their online programs. Learn how asynchronous courses, self-paced study, and competency-based progression can benefit military spouses.

Check the type and quality of student support services.

While every online college has specific services, you should choose a school that offers these basic but very important resources for finding help in your courses, paying for your education, building your network, and getting started on your career plans.

  • Technical support 
  • Academic advising
  • Tutoring services
  • Library services
  • Career Counseling
  • Accessibility services 
  • Financial aid counseling 
  • Peer support programs 

When considering the merits of each online school, consider which programs, services and resources are better at meeting your needs. For example, Penn State’s secular education may suit your learning needs more than Liberty’s Christian values-driven education.

Ask about financial aid for military spouses.

While online colleges can be more affordable, you will still be required to pay other expenses associated with your degree. Take a closer look at these financial aid options you can enjoy as a military spouse: 

Federal and State Aid

Complete the FAFSA form to apply for federal and state aid. Your FAFSA information determines your eligibility for institutional scholarships and grants.

Military-specific Education Benefits

You can apply for both the federal aid and the military-specific education benefits. Ask your school financial aid officer for eligibility requirements, application and approval process, and financial assistance from these military-specific education benefits: 

  • Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) 
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill transferability
  • Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (CAA)

You should also consider the benefits of enrolling in a Yellow Ribbon school, especially if you’re planning on enrolling in a private school, an out-of-state school, or a foreign school. 

Online schools like Liberty University and Penn State World Campus also offer discounted tuition rates for military-connected students. 

How to Maximize Online Learning as a Military Spouse

Read the Student’s Manual.

Understand the school’s general rules and regulations as well as the specific policies for military-connected students. Your awareness of these aspects will boost your academic success, particularly in completing graduation requirements and meeting student behavior expectations. 

Plan ahead!

Plan for transitions brought by the deployment-related relocations. You should ideally be updated with your coursework so that you’re less stressed when moving between stations. Talk to your instructors and advisors about relocations so you can be accommodated. Update your contact information on the school’s records with every relocation. 

Learn effective study and time management skills.

Develop effective study habits that contribute to your up-to-date compliance with your coursework. Your effective time management and organization skills are vital for keeping abreast, if not ahead, of your coursework.

Take advantage of online college resources.

The best online colleges provide students with excellent student support services that promote their academic success (i.e., graduation). Your right and responsibility as an online student is to take advantage of the resources and services offered to online students and military-connected students. Use mobile learning resources so you can study on the go and in your downtime. 

Most importantly, build your personal support system! Tell your family and friends about your plans.

Five Ways Military Spouses Benefit from Online Colleges

Here, we discuss the specific ways that military spouses and their families benefit from pursuing their degrees in online colleges and universities. 

Flexible Class Schedules

The unpredictability of deployment schedules and frequent relocations can take its toll on your academic performance, perhaps even result in your on-and-off studies. With an online program, fortunately, you can overcome these challenges and complete your studies according to your plans. You will find the following characteristics of online colleges working in your favor. 

  • Asynchronous learning: You have 24/7 access to your learning materials, listen to recorded lectures and other content, and submit assignments based on your schedule, although weekly deadlines are common. Since you can access learning content at your convenience, you can maintain a good balance between your work, family, and social commitments. 
  • Flexible assignment deadlines: Again, weekly submission of assignments is common, but there’s also a certain level of flexibility. Discuss your unique challenges with your professors and see if you can extend deadlines and reschedule exam dates. 
  • Discussion forums, chats and other collaborative tools: Online programs encourage students to participate in group projects, research projects, and class discussions in both real-time and asynchronously. You don’t have to travel to in-person classes since discussion forums, chats and collaborative tools, such as Slack and Canva, are accessible online. 
  • Self-paced courses: Self-paced courses allow students to progress through their course materials at their own pace. You can either take your time or speed through the course materials depending on your level of learning and schedule. If you’re dealing with yet another relocation, you can set your course materials aside and return to them when you’re settled, Take note of the longest time allowed to complete each course. 
  • Competency-based learning: Western Governors University uses the competency-based learning model, where students can progress at their own pace and go through competency-based assessments. Students are evaluated based on assessment methods like papers, presentations and projects, as well as comprehensive exams. Southern New Hampshire University, Capella University, Utah State University Online, Rasmussen College, and University of Maryland Global Campus offer competency-based online programs. 
  • Online assessments: You don’t have to travel to a physical campus for your quizzes and exams either because these are completed online. Some programs even allow students to take these online assessments within a specified timeframe (i.e., asynchronized testing).
  • Mobile learning: Your learning materials, discussion forums, and academic progress reports can be accessed via your mobile gadget and you can study on the go. 

With these benefits of online learning, you can eliminate the barriers to higher education caused by your frequent relocations! 

Convenient Way to Earn a Degree or Enrich Your Credentials

Most online colleges and universities are extensions of accredited brick-and-mortar institutions like Purdue Global, UMass Global, and the University of Maryland Global Campus. Popular standalone online institutions include the University of Phoenix, Capella University, and Western Governors University.

At these online institutions, students enjoy convenient education that addresses the challenges associated with frequent relocations. You don’t have to worry about discontinuing your studies or wasting the time, effort and money spent on completing your coursework at your previous college. You will instead enjoy continuity in your studies because:

  • You can easily transfer credits between regionally accredited institutions with articulation agreements. You don’t have to retake courses, so you can complete your degree as planned.
  • Online colleges use standardized assessments for student transfers under the assumption that course content and learning outcomes are similar, if not the same, among online colleges. Online colleges are also transparent in showing learning outcomes.
  • Online schools for military spouses offer ways for students to earn additional credentials and digital badges through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). They often partner with Coursera, edX and Udacity. 

You should ask about these matters of the online college you’re transferring to so you can enjoy a seamless transfer.

Wide Range of Program Options

Business administration, finance and accounting, nursing, and education are among the highly recommended professions for military spouses. Because no two military spouses are the same, these diverse choices in academic disciplines allow them to address their unique needs for attending college and earning a degree. 

The best online colleges for military spouses use a multidisciplinary approach. The courses combine content from disparate disciplines, resulting in a more holistic understanding of complex concepts. Examples include degree programs in health informatics, digital humanities, and sustainability studies. 

Strong Community and Support Networks

Relocating to a new place can be isolating! In an online program with a strong sense of community, you feel a sense of belongingness, Participate in discussion groups, online forums and chat groups with your peers and professors. You can maintain your relationships with your school friends regardless of your geographical location.

Financial Assistance Options

Since you won’t have to spend money on in-person school activities and many incidental expenses, you can save money. You will also find numerous financial aid options that will significantly reduce your cost of attendance, including: 

  • Federal and state aid 
  • Military tuition assistance programs from:
    • Department of Veterans Affairs
    • Department of Defense
    • official charitable organizations of the Armed Forces branches 
  • Institutional scholarships and grants, including tuition discounts for military-connected personnel 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there special accommodations for military spouses dealing with unique circumstances?

Yes, military spouses may be able to secure special accommodations from online programs, such as assignment extensions and flexibility in test schedules.

Are prior military training and experience recognized as credits by online schools?

Yes, many online colleges recognize military education, training and experience by assigning academic credits. But it must be emphasized that military spouses without accepted military education, training and experience aren’t eligible for military-connected credits. Instead, you can enjoy indirect benefits through education-related benefits for military spouses.

Are there workforce transition services available for military spouses once they finish college?

Yes, but these services are usually incorporated into the student support and career development services. 

Are there accommodations for military spouses and students with childcare responsibilities?

Yes, but not all online schools offer relevant services. Look for family support services and child care assistance programs offered by online schools and military organizations. The MCCYN-PLUS and Child Care Aware of America programs are excellent examples.

Do employers recognize online college degrees?

Yes, but the college degrees must be awarded by accredited colleges and universities. Besides, military-specific education benefits programs require postsecondary institutions to be regionally accredited for military spouses to qualify for the benefits. 

Sources: 

National Center of Education Statistics 

Forbes 

Council for Higher Education Accreditation 

Department of Veterans Affairs 

Department of Defense 

Military OneSource