As a service member or a spouse, you might be at a place where you are thinking about if you should go back to school and either start or finish your degree. There can be many different reasons to do so and there are many different way to complete your education.
Making the decision to go to school isn’t always easy and there are some things you do have to think about before you decide what to do.
Do you know what you want to do?
Some people already have an idea of what they want to do. They already know they want to move forward to become a teacher, a nurse, go into business, or any other career they are interested in. This will make deciding to go to school a little bit easier.
Others really want to get a degree but are not sure in what direction they want to go into. Since many degrees require general education, not knowing what you want to do when you start school can be normal. After you take a few classes, you might figure out what you want to do and can then choose your degree or program from there.
Many military installations have an Education Center where you can take many, if not all of your General Education classes. If you are unsure about what you want to do, this can be the perfect place to get started. These Education Centers work with military schedules and make getting your degree possible. They are also open to military spouses.
How long will it take you to get through school?
As you are making your decision about going back to school, you should determine about how long it will take you to complete your education. If you are a military spouse, you will want to think about what will happen if you do have to PCS before you earn your degree. You will want to make sure your credits can transfer and that you won’t lose too much if you do have to finish your education somewhere else. In some cases, waiting to start school might be the best idea, and in others, getting started will allow you to get some of your classes out of the way even if you do have to transfer down the road.
How will school fit in with work and other responsibilities?
When trying to decide about going back to school, think about all of your current responsibilities and what would need to change if you did make this decision. Luckily, there are options for those who are working or who need to be home with children. Schools usually offer online classes, or night/weekend classes so that you can be flexible with what you need to take. Going to an online only school is also an option. Certain degrees and programs can not be completed 100% online, so looking into what your particular program or degree requires is important.
What about your kids, will you have to find childcare?
If you are the spouse and have children, you will have to think about where your children will go while you are in school. If they are school age themselves, you can more easily go to class when they are in school. If they are not school age you will need to come up with a good childcare plan or plan for after school care and breaks if they differ from yours. If you are close to a military installation you can look into the Child Development Centers to see what they have available to start.
Going to school online can be popular with military spouses for this reason. You can work on your education around your children and their schedules a little more easily. As a service member or veteran, you also might need to think about childcare and who will be with the kids while you are getting your education.
What is your end goal?
Thinking about your end goal will go a long way once you start school. You want to have a plan, even if that plan is simply to get a degree. If you know what you are working towards, getting through the challenges that can come with going back to school will be a little easier.
If you are a service member getting ready to ETS in the future, going to school can help you figure out what you want to do, offer you better career opportunities, and work on an ideal second career after the military. With the GI Bill and other educational benefits such as Tuition Assistance and MYCAA, there are many ways to go to school without having to spend too much out of pocket.
Making the decision to go to school can be the right one. Please visit our 10 Step Guide to Going to College for more information on what you need to do to go back to school.