Once your military service to your country is completed, it may take a while to decide what you would like to do with the next phase of your life. You may discover that the career you want for yourself will require you to continue your education before a job can be obtained. If you are an ex-serviceman or woman planning to return to school after serving your country, there are a few things you should know.

1. Research and Register for a Degree Program

For ex-military personnel returning to school, the homework starts long before the first class begins. The first order of business is researching schools until one is found that completely fits your needs.

A few things you should consider when comparing schools is:

  • The size of the school
  • Programs of study
  • Availability of student support
  • Proximity to services that benefit ex-military personnel
  • Culture of the college or university
  • Accreditation

Once you have found the colleges or universities that offer the degree program you are interested in, you will want to start the application process.

Before registering for classes, there are some things to look for in course you want to take at the school you wish to attend:

  • Course title and description: adequately describe program, target audience, etc.
  • Learning outcomes: clearly stated, results of the program, etc.
  • Faculty credentials: instructor qualifications
  • Instructional methods: clearly described, active involvement
  • Credit: do they transfer, what happens once completed
  • Registration fees: reasonable price for the program when compared to similar programs
  • Refund/cancellation policy: clearly stated

Once you have concluded your research, it is time to sign up for classes.

2. Have a Career Plan

Many young people choose to start college without a definite plan of action for their studies. College courses can be expensive, so you will only want to take classes that further your goal. For example, if your ultimate goal is a career as a radiologist, spending thousands of dollars for courses on British literature will not make much sense.

It would help if you also had a clear understanding of things like how long it will take for you to earn your degree, what are your out of pocket expenses, and what help is available to you. Have a timeline of what you need to accomplish and when you want to complete everything.

3. Take Classes Online

The thought of online classes may make you uncomfortable if you are not familiar with them. However, continuing your educational goals online will bring you significant advantages over taking classes at a physical location.

The first benefit is flexibility. Online classes allow you to continue working and enjoying your hobbies while completing your studies. Ex-military personnel who take online classes often continue to gain work experience while taking classes. Other benefits include saving on the time and cost of commuting, lower tuition, and self-paced coursework.

One online program that has proved its merits is the online Trident degree program for veterans. The online Trident degree program for veterans is regionally accredited and offers a dynamic learning experience that has brightened the future for many former military personnel.

4. Find Financial Help

By now, you understand how expensive it can be to fund your educational goals. Fortunately, there are many sources of financial aid for ex-servicemen and women to make the burden a little easier.

  • Post 911 GI Bill- The GI Bill is perhaps the most well-known financial aid program geared toward veterans. The bill has helped fund the educational dreams of veterans since World War II. The Post 911 GI Bill will pay up to 100 percent of tuition, deliver a monthly housing allowance to ex-military personnel, and contribute money toward the cost of books and other supplies.
  • Montgomery GI Bill – This program exists under the GI Bill and it helps to pay for a college degree program, vocational course, tech course, or classes at a small business development center.
  • Traditional Student Aid – Federal aid programs are under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Education. Ex-soldiers only need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to see which grants and low-interest loans for which they qualify.

Other financial aid alternatives for ex-servicemen and women include State financial aid for ex-service personnel, Veterans Educational Assistance Program, and Reserve Educational Assistance Program.

Final Thoughts

Many ex-military members decide that an integral part of their transition to civilian life will be enrolling in an educational program. The service you have delivered to your country will likely benefit you as you pursue the education you desire. The four tips above will help you find the educational program you need and begin your work toward the future as seamlessly as possible.

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