Serving your country is a noble and respectable cause, leading to countless character strengthening opportunities. Those that have served in the military understand the value of putting in hard work for a collective goal, so it makes sense that many veterans later attend college after military service. Acclimating back to civilian life can be an overwhelming experience for veterans, and earning a degree after serving in the military is an effective way for young professionals to gain relevant experience and knowledge in the field of their choosing. But how does going to college after serving time in the military work, and how is the process different from a typical college application process? These are all valid questions for military personnel to consider.
In this article, we’ll navigate the best ways for former or current military personnel to apply to college, as well as explore some important factors for veterans to consider before taking the first steps toward their higher education. Veterans who understand their potential options and properly prepare for their own success will be well on their way to earning a degree and moving forward in their professional lives.
Can You Go to College After the Military?
Yes, it’s possible to attend college after spending time in the military. It’s also possible to take college courses while currently enlisted, especially with the increasing amount of online degree programs becoming available. While some students may choose to enroll in a reserve officer training corps program to later enlist in the army, some people reverse the process and attend college after getting home from military service. It’s never too late to begin the process of earning a college degree.
One can even argue that military personnel are encouraged to later attend college with the passing of an updated GI Bill in 2008. This bill details educational programs offered through the Department of Veteran Affairs that allow qualifying members of the US armed forces the ability to have their college, graduate school, and vocational experience paid for. Depending on the applicant’s duty status, service length and duration, and nature of application, this bill can cover partial or full costs of this schooling.
5 Tips for Going to College After the Military
Deciding to go back to college after serving in the military is a fantastic choice for veterans looking to expand their professional horizon and learn more about a field of their choosing. That being said, making the choice to pursue a degree should never be made with proper consideration. Let’s explore some helpful tips for those interested in going back to college after serving in the military to help future students set themselves up for professional and academic success.
1. Clarify and stay focused on your end goal
At the end of the day, no one attends college just to say they did it. Aspiring students all have unique goals, but generally have the same mission of earning a degree to more easily reach for their professional pursuits. Before going to college after military service, it’s important to envision what this choice means for your future and what you seek to gain from it before investing in the application process. Defining goals early on can more easily shape the decision to earn a degree.
Ask yourself the hard questions early to avoid complications down the line. Why do you want a degree? What careers interest you, and Is there a specific level of degree needed for those opportunities? What does the job market look like for your field of interest? Is this a degree that you want to earn in-person or online? These are important questions for any future college student to consider before diving into the college experience, and by answering them aspiring students can stay focused on their goals and more easily find success.
2. Understand how to properly use benefits
As with any college applicant, utilizing all available resources is the smartest way to maximize the investment of attending college and earning a degree. Oftentimes, applicants rush along within the application process and easily miss out on amazing benefits and aid that might be available. With the number of veteran support services available, it would be a shame to miss out on these potential benefits and end up paying more than necessary for a college education.
Understanding personal benefits eligibility is an important first step for anyone interested in going to college after military service. Former and current military personnel can begin this process by applying through the Department of Veteran Affairs by filling out an education benefits form. They determine eligibility status and educational benefit packages based on a few factors such as the nature of discharge, time of service, and duration of active service. These benefits not only cover up to 100% of a student’s tuition but can also assist in housing costs, class material stipends, and unique tuition rates. Put simply, this is one of the most accessible and guaranteed ways for veterans to gain assistance when going back to college.
3. Establish a support system early on
Odds are that those with military experience under their belt have dealt with their fair share of challenges and difficult situations. While going to college is a certainly more common path than military service, it has its own challenges that require different skills and knowledge than that typically gained within a veteran’s experience. Establishing a solid support group early into a college experience is an effective way for new students to gain perspective and assistance during their acclimation process.
A support system looks different for everyone, but this can include family members, friends, academic advisors, and even other veterans that may be choosing to pursue a degree as well. Forging strong connections is such a crucial element of any successful mission, and having a support group on your side makes navigating life post-military much easier.
4. Leverage available military and veteran resources
Veterans should always research veteran-specific financial aid opportunities in the form of grants or scholarships to help assist in paying for college. Some colleges often have military-specific programs and resources to help veterans adjust to college life. It’s also a good idea for former military personnel to consider applying to a military-friendly college. These are academic institutions that provide carefully curated curriculums and veteran services to help those exiting the military a seamless transition into civilian life.
While many colleges might offer one or two veteran resources, a military-friendly college is typically a school that offers a variety of military-specific programs. This usually includes financial assistance for military students, academic assistance, military-specific career resources to help graduates prepare for interviews, and a prevalent and active community of veterans available for support. Former military personnel should leverage these resources often to gain the absolute most from a collegiate experience.
5. Network with peers
One of the best parts about deciding to go to college is being able to increase your professional contacts and improve your networking skills within a degree program. Taking classes alongside students who have similar career interests is a simple way to gain alternative perspectives on class studies and professional opportunities. Networking with peers also allows students to make connections that may prove to be lucrative down the line once entering the workforce.
Whether veterans choose to attend college in-person or online, utilizing any networking opportunities is a valuable choice. Not only does this help shape your professional future and abilities to make professional connections, but it’s also a great way to connect with other veterans and classmates in settings outside of military service. This is amazing not only for professional development but for helping acclimate to a new collegiate environment and headspace.
Common Questions About Going to College While in the Military
While many choose to pursue college after military service, this doesn’t mean that currently enlisted officers shouldn’t feel comfortable exploring their options during their time in the military. This is a smart option for those on the fence regarding earning a degree and can provide early insight into if enrolling in a full degree program would be a good choice for their futures after service.
Can You Go to College While in the Military?
Going to college while in the military is simpler than ever, especially with the various veteran resources and amazing online degree programs that have developed over time. While military service is often defined by the experiences gained while in service, this can also be a time of self-discovery and education. Some military experience can even be transferred to college credit, depending on the specific applicant.
How to Go to College While in the Military
Online degree programs and military-friendly universities are some of the most worthwhile avenues toward earning a degree while currently in military service. Every applicant is different, so military personnel needs to research what the Post 9/11 GI Bill offers them to understand their financial situation. Taking online college classes is a fairly simple process as long as college applicants have properly looked into their educational benefits before choosing their online degree program. These classes can be taken on the student’s time, which allows them to effortlessly shift their focus from studies to service as needed.
Many military-friendly colleges also provide online degree programs created to allow military personnel to have a flexible and part-time course schedule. These institutions also boast unique curriculums and resources, veteran support services, and career training to help veterans acclimate to civilian life and more confidently enter the workforce after earning a degree. Support services often also include mental health resources, which can be a valuable tool for former soldiers that need help navigating the stressful elements of military service.
The hardest part about applying to college during or after military service is starting. As respected members of the community and valuable assets of our nation, these esteemed individuals deserve access to higher education and civilian career opportunities. Interested veterans should first consider what career path they’d most enjoy after time in the military, and research their benefits before settling on the desired school by learning more about the GI Bill and other military-related educational programs available to them. Once the process has begun, these cherished students will be on their way to educational and professional expansion in no time.
Bible College Online Helps Veterans Find Military-Friendly Colleges
Deciding to attend college after military service can open the door to career advancement, professional development, and self-actualization after spending substantial time serving the nation. Transitioning from military service can be a daunting process, but by understanding the options available to them veterans can more easily acclimate to civilian life and make strides toward their futures. Luckily, with the increase in online degree programs and military-friendly colleges, going to college after the military has never been more accessible.
Are you a veteran interested in taking the next steps toward higher education? Bible College Online has extensive insight into military-friendly colleges, online degree programs, as well as other educational resources that military personnel should use to their advantage. Explore online degree programs and find military-friendly colleges with the help of Bible College Online today!