Current military personnel who are considering furthering their education might want to look into an online college for service members. In the past two decades or so, there has been explosive growth in the number of online programs that are specifically designed to be military-friendly. These programs come with a number of key perks that makes them easy to fit into a typically busy military schedule. Many of today’s best schools for military service members offer specific benefits that take into consideration combat deployments, changes in location, and other factors that aren’t typical among the more traditional student body.
What to Look For in an Online Degree Program for Military Members
Higher education is known for being a pretty demanding pursuit, but the military easily places even greater demands on today’s service members. As a result, the ideal online degree program for these individuals is one that is accelerated and flexible, understanding and accommodating, and robust enough to offer a full range of traditional college majors and degree programs. There are a few things to look for when ensuring that any online program is a good fit.
1. Regional Accreditation
The most reputable online degrees come form schools that have been regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is granted by one of several bodies recognized by the United States Department of Education, and includes groups like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and several others. While certain national accreditations are also acceptable, students should be absolutely sure to steer clear of programs that offer no accreditation at all, or those that boast accreditation by a body that has not been certified by the Department of Education.
2. No Campus Attendance or Residency Requirements
Members of the military are frequently moved between bases or even deployed to combat zones. This is why most on-campus degree programs are simply off limits prior to civilian life. When choosing an online school, make sure the institution offers a fully online program free of hybrid classes or any campus attendance requirements. This includes things like an in-person orientation, in-person student ID acquisition, on-campus capstones or labs, or any similar requirements.
3. The School Should Have the Right Major
Don’t choose a school simply because it’s online. With the vast selection of programs that accommodate military life, there’s no reason to compromise on the course of study chosen. If one school doesn’t have it, find another online, regionally accredited institution that offers the right program. With a growing list of choices, it will be easy to find the right combination of price, prestige, major, and academic rigor, in order to ensure a competitive resume when reentering into civilian life and seeking new job opportunities in the private sector.
4. Make Sure the School Allows for “Inactive” Periods
Service members should only choose an online school that won’t require readmission procedures if the student takes one or two semesters off. This is essential, especially for those who expect to be deployed into combat zones in the near future. Many military-friendly schools allow extended leaves of absence that accommodates combat and other obligations, and these schools represent a top choice for today’s active military service members.
A Wealth of Great Education Options Awaits Those in the Military
Those military service members looking for the right online school have never had a longer list of options or a more reputable selection of great schools to choose from. Just remember that the right online college for service members should offer the right major, accreditation, and flexible schedule, to meet the demands of the military’s rigorous obligations.
Additional Resource: Back to School: Adults and Higher Education