You’ve been thinking about going back to school for a while now and your spouse just deployed. What are you waiting for?
Deployment is a great time to earn a college degree.
We’re all busy with family, work, volunteering and just life in general, which can put higher education on the back burner. If getting a degree truly is important to you, don’t put it off any longer.
Ask yourself a few questions and follow these tips to start working toward a college degree while your service member is away.
What type of learning environment suits your needs best?
Start by deciding if you would benefit most by going to a traditional college, an online program or a school that offers both in person and online classes. Is it feasible to make the commute to campus? Are you disciplined enough to take classes online and study on your own? What kind of experience are you looking for? Some people thrive in the classroom interacting with the professor and other students while some prefer to do it all on their own.
Do you want to go to a two-year or four-year college?
Community colleges offer associate degrees through a two-year program. Many students start at these schools, because they cost less and then transition to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Research colleges thoroughly.
Don’t limit your options to the college closest to you or exclude one you think might be too expensive. You might miss a great school that way. Widen your search and see what each school has to offer then you can determine if it is a match for what you want. Make sure the college you choose offers the program you want in the timeline you are looking for.
Browse through the school’s alumni directory to see what graduates have done with their degrees. Are there many listed in the field you are interested in? Read the school’s testimonies and search social media to see students’ perceptions of the college.
Decide on a major.
While you don’t need to decide on a major before you begin classes, it is helpful to have an idea of the area in which you want to pursue. You can take a few classes without declaring a major or simply register for general studies and many students change their majors multiple times.
One thing to consider though, you may end up taking extra classes, which means your college degree could take longer to attain and you will be spending more money.
Look for scholarships.
College is expensive, but you don’t have to foot the whole bill. There are thousands of scholarships available; you just have to look for them.
I had 9 scholarships for my undergraduate years. Combined they covered everything. A friend received one scholarship that paid for everything.
Scholarships are offered in various amounts and every little bit helps. Spend some time researching college scholarships. Apply to the ones that require more work. Those with essays receive fewer entries because people don’t want to spend the time doing them.
Start volunteering with your community, if you aren’t doing so already. This is a very valuable quality to put on scholarship applications and some scholarships even require a certain number of volunteer hours. Look for scholarships that are specific to you as well. There are scholarships available strictly to military spouses.
Talk to friends, family and coworkers about their experiences.
It can be difficult to make such a big decision. Seek out help from friends by simply asking them what they liked best about their school, their college experience and how they made their decision on a school that lead them to a degree.
Make a college plan.
Look at the necessary courses for the degree you have chosen. Review the class schedule ahead of time and make a plan with a timeline for completing your degree. Some classes are only offered in specific semesters. Most programs have a capstone class that must be taken in your last semester. Make sure you know when that is so you aren’t waiting an extra semester just to take that one class because you didn’t time your program correctly.
Once you have decided on a college and a program, make sure you take it seriously and spend the necessary time studying. That means setting aside a specific time to study. Do your homework. Don’t waste your time and money avoiding it. Delegate your time wisely and don’t show up late for class.
Enjoy your classes.
College is a wonderful thing and can be a great experience if you let it. Study hard and you will feel so rewarded when you receive your degree.