When you look at colleges, you may struggle to find the right one. That, coupled with adapting to student life, a need for flexibility and the desire for some guidance when pursuing a degree, may seem like too much work to make it worth it.
Some universities meet your qualifications. Here are questions to ask when making that determination.
Do They Offer Financial Support?
There are many financial options available to military-connected students, including tuition assistance, veteran education benefits and the Yellow Ribbon Program. But sometimes you need more financial support. An institution that understands the dynamics of your military lifestyle and can support students in their academic goals through scholarships and other opportunities is a win for you, your spouse and your classmates.
What Academic Options are Available?
Students entering, or returning, to college who haven't yet decided on their major or concentration appreciate a school with a variety of programs. This gives you the option of trying a few courses for general education credits before declaring a major. Or if you've already chosen a program, you can broaden your horizons with some elective courses or by meeting new people.
It's also important for veterans or active-duty students to receive credit for previous military experience. Credits for training, schools or certifications can speed up the timeline for receiving their degree and moving on to their chosen career.
Does the University Support Your Career Search?
Most students attend college with the end goal of a new career. Veterans and military-connected students are no exception to this. Make sure you look at what the university offers as far as career services. Talk to students who are or have attended a particular university and see what companies they are working for now. Do they have an active alumni community? Do they offer help with resume writing or interview prep? Are students able to easily find internships and apprenticeships? Ask the questions before applying so that you are comfortable with your future career.
Does the University Offer Resources to Balance Family, Work and Your Education?
For military students balancing active-duty service or a career with college classes, flexibility is key. A college that understands that will make your experience much smoother. Is your plan to complete a degree quickly and push everything else to the side? Or do you plan to spend time with family, work and take one class at a time? The university you decide on should be able to accommodate both options. Classes that start regularly and are not tied to a traditional semester schedule are a benefit if you don't want to wait until September when leaving the military in February.
Additionally, classes that are available in a variety of locations and via different platforms allow you to balance family and community obligations with your educational goals. Some students perform better in person, some online, and depending on duty-station location or deployment, classes offered on the installation may be the best fit.
Does the University Support Your Needs Outside of the Classroom?
The transition from military to college, even if for a few hours a day, can be difficult. Support from a university that caters to the whole student -- their physical, mental and emotional needs -- is important when deciding where to attend. Do they offer adaptive instruction availability or free tutoring? Do they have a veteran center or resources to help with the transition from military to civilian life?
If the university provides holistic student support -- meeting needs academically, financially and emotionally -- through veteran's resources, support networks or counseling, it's easier to believe they have your best interests at heart, which may put one school over others.
Keep Up With Your Education Benefits
Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, Military.com can help. Subscribe to Military.com to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.