An Online College Degree Proves Popular With Military Personnel

By Andy West

Members of the military have been increasingly taking advantage of the online college degree programs in order to move up the ranks and advance their careers in both the military and as civilians. While in the military, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree compliments their military training and adds valuable skills to their traditional training, while a college education looks great on their resume when they retire after they put in their mandatory years of service. With many men and women retiring from the military in their forties, online college degrees give them an education that compliments their military experience perfectly to give them a leg up in the workforce.

Online college degree programs certainly fit the military lifestyle. Why the popularity of an online college instead of a more traditional bricks and mortar school? The most obvious is the convenience of an online education. Military personnel are frequently relocated, but as long as they have access to a computer and an Internet connection they can pursue an education through an online university. In fact, many are taking classes today even while they are deployed in war zones or serving their country overseas.

Since relocation doesn’t affect classes, military students aren’t in danger of falling behind on credits and don’t have to worry about credits transferring. The self-paced nature of many online courses is also ideal. With more leeway during each semester, there is a bit of cushion built in for time needed for transfers or time off for military exercises or other commitments. Required schoolwork can be done around the schedule of each person.

The costs are reasonable for military personnel in online education. There are various GI Bills that cover all or part of the educational costs for members of the military who wish to pursue an advanced degree based on length of service, amount of active duty, branch of service and veteran’s status. The funds allocated by these programs can be used for traditional colleges and universities or a variety of online programs. Since online programs tend to cost less than bricks and mortar universities as a whole, the resulting savings is even greater. Online colleges are increasingly offering scholarships and grants to individuals who serve in the armed forces or the National Guard and reserve, veterans and their family members as well. These schools are aware of the dedication and high success rate of these students and are eager to enroll them as students; courting them with financial assistance is just one way they look to increase the number of military members they enroll each year.

Many cyber schools offering online college degrees are now members of the Service Members Opportunity College System (SOC), an organization that has 1800 member colleges and universities. These schools encourage the pursuit of college degrees by military personnel by removing stumbling blocks caused by more traditional methods of pursuing a degree. Some ways that SOC schools do this include: minimizing loss or credit for transfers and minimizing duplicate work, limiting or removing residency requirements for military personnel, recognizing national testing programs and or giving credit for out-of-classroom learning and finally giving credit for military experience.

There are now dozens of online colleges in the United States that participate in the SOC program, giving military personnel the chance to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while they are serving in the military. With so many advantages to pursuing an education online over a more traditional approach, it’s easy to see why more members of the armed forces are taking advantage of online college degree programs every year.

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