If you are a military spouse, you probably know what it feels like to leave behind the family you love, friends you cherish and familiar places you used to call home. A military spouse’s role may be overlooked, but the military lifestyle doesn’t have to be an obstacle to some of the same opportunities civilians have access to, including higher education and professional growth.Online education can address the challenge of frequent relocation that military spouses face. I started my online MBA program when my husband was stationed in Virginia, and we didn’t know where we were headed next. A year into the program, we knew we had to travel cross-country to Washington state for his new role.
As a military spouse, I benefited greatly from my online program. Here are three reasons why.
1. You can attend class while moving through states and time zones. With the potential to move nearly every 12 to 24 months, on-campus full-time programs are very hard for military spouses to pursue. The beauty of online learning is that when your family moves from one station to another, you are only limited by your access to the internet.The trick to a smooth transition is to keep track of time zones and understand how the change affects deadlines for assignments. When, for example, you are moving from Virginia to Washington, your homework becomes due three hours earlier. You also have to be prepared to be at team virtual meetings at odd times, but with time management skills, everything is possible.
2. There are a variety of program choices. Whether you are close to being out of the military environment or trying to get a better job position while within, your selection of school will impact your career outcome. Consider the brand: Is it a great school nationally? Does it have a strong local brand, or no brand at all? Choose the locations where you want to accelerate your career prospects: Do you intend to travel for your job, or do you want to open a small business?
Answers to these questions may either draw you toward a school that is recognizable on both coasts or one with a strong local brand. No matter where you and your spouse are stationed, you can pursue either with online learning.
3. Spouses can receive financing for an education. Education doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pinch pennies. Most programs at reputable schools help military personnel and spouses financially support their degrees. You should be very cautious of online programs that the GI Bill refuses to fund. My husband and I split our aid through the GI Bill to fund our advanced degrees – an online and a blended program.While military spouses don’t get a monthly housing allowance for their GI Bill-financed degree while the service member is on active duty, they do receive a yearly books and supplies stipend. The housing allowance is available, however, for soldiers.The GI Bill is not the only financial program specifically designed for the military; there’s also the Yellow Ribbon Program and numerous scholarships available to military spouses pursuing online degrees.The takeaway: Being a military spouse means a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get an excellent education just because you are moving regularly.