Benefits of Going to Online School for Military Spouses
Military spouses face unique challenges ranging from time apart from their significant others to frequent relocations. Those looking to earn a degree or advance in their careers might put off their goals due to the military lifestyle. Flexible and reputable online education programs can help overcome these obstacles.
In this article, we explore military spouse education benefits and offer tips for taking online classes.
Education Benefits for Military Spouses
Military spouses can qualify for many education benefits. For example, military service members eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill® can share their benefit with spouses and dependents or transfer it them in its entirety. Service members and their spouses can also qualify for education benefits through the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps pay for graduate school and other programs with higher tuition costs that the GI Bill® doesn't cover.
You can take advantage of these education benefits if your spouse:
- Is on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
- Has been in military service for at least six years.
- Plans to complete at least four more years of service.
You must also enroll in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, a database of military members and spouses eligible for these benefits.
Benefits of Online Learning for Military Spouses
There are many advantages of online programs for military spouses. Some of them include:
1. Learning From Anywhere
Attending online classes is possible from nearly any location with internet access. This is a major advantage for military spouses who find themselves frequently relocating to new bases, cities, states, and even countries. Even if the move is sudden or unexpected, you should be able to complete your education.
Online schooling also expands your learning options beyond your immediate area. Many bases, for example, aren't located conveniently to local colleges or universities. Further, if your spouse is stationed overseas, you might not have access to traditional programs because of location or language barriers. Online schools allow you to enroll in classes at U.S.-based institutions, no matter where you live.
2. Flexible Schedules
Many online schools offer self-paced programs in which students don't have to attend courses together at a particular time. You can log in and complete coursework or proctored exams whenever it’s convenient for your schedule and time zone. So even if your spouse is serving in another country, you can attend classes at a reasonable time while still managing other responsibilities like parenting.
3. Financial Aid
Continuing your education or getting an advanced degree doesn't have to break the bank. Look for online programs funded by the GI Bill®. You may also qualify for financial aid or scholarships that cover your enrollment costs and other college expenses.
4. Transferable Skills
Continuing your education online can also help you remain competitive in the job market. Choose courses or degrees that provide you with transferable skills that apply to a range of jobs and industries. Then, no matter where your spouse relocates or gets deployed to, you’ll have a better chance to find employment.
Tips for Military Spouses Taking Online Classes
Completing coursework while balancing life's responsibilities and moving frequently can be challenging. Here are some tips to get the most out of your education as a military spouse:
- Plan ahead. Be prepared to relocate at any time. If you're well-organized and up to date with your coursework, you'll be less stressed if and when your spouse's orders to relocate arrive.
- Communicate with advisors and instructors. Keep your advisors and instructors informed about your obligations and potential relocations. Many online schools offer numerous support services, and they may be able to accommodate your military lifestyle by offering deadline extensions and other flexible options.
- Develop time management skills. If you're attending online school from a different time zone or country, determine if and how that affects your class times or assignment deadlines. For example, if an assignment is due at noon Eastern time and your spouse is stationed in Hawaii, you'll need to turn it in six hours early to avoid a late assignment. If your online school requires in-person meetings, factor those time differences in as well.
- Work ahead. If possible, set early deadlines for yourself so you have a buffer in the event of a relocation. Then, if you need to take a few days off from coursework, you've already completed your assignments.
- Review school rules. Some online programs have special guidelines for military spouses and can accommodate different time zones and relocations. Contact your school to learn about its military spouse education policies.
- Keep your contact information updated. If you relocate and any of your contact information changes, notify your school as soon as possible.
Military spouses can and should take advantage of the U.S. military's education benefits. Regardless of where your spouse is stationed or how frequently you relocate, you can develop your professional skills or earn a degree by enrolling in an online school.
Here at Columbia Southern University, approximately 40% of our student population are active-duty, veterans, spouses or dependents of military service members. We offer academic support and resources specifically designed for military students and their families.
For more information about our Career Services Department, Veterans Center, Student Veterans Association and online degree programs, visit our website.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website.