Going back to school as a military spouse
Many military spouses are jumping at the chance to go back to school. And why not? You can expand your career opportunities, boost your earning power, become eligible for promotions, and find more meaningful and fulfilling work. Going back to school is an investment in yourself, your career and your future. Check out these tips and resources to help you get back in the education game.
Questions to consider
Writing down your career goals and planning how to reach them is a great first step toward figuring out what’s right for you. And you don’t have to do it alone. The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program can help with all aspects of employment readiness. Talk with the program’s certified career counselors about topics like these:
•What are my career goals?
It's said if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. So figuring out your goals is important. Are you passionate about a particular field or purpose? Are you looking for financial freedom? Do you want work that's steady and predictable, or are you a risk-taker? As a military family, will you need a portable career that can move with you? Clearly defining your goals will let you focus your efforts.
•What are my personal goals?
Your career goals might help you achieve your personal goals. Will going back to school give you a sense of pride and accomplishment? Knowing what you hope to gain personally from this experience can also help you tailor your career and educational path.
•What new opportunities can more schooling provide?
You might have multiple options to consider. Know the educational requirements for your job field.
•What's the job market like in my field?
Knowing the job market and any restrictions related to state licensing can help you plan your educational needs and find opportunities where you can be competitive. As a military family, you should consider where you'll most likely live and whether there's a market for your career in the area. Make informed decisions by checking the Department of Labor's Career OneStop website for job market forecasts and salary information based on region.
•Is this the best time to go back to school?
This is a big commitment, so step back and consider how family and work responsibilities might be affected. Also, look at what's down the line for you and your family. If your spouse is deploying soon, for example, going back to school could add a lot of stress, but it might also be a good distraction for you. Also, you should consider educational benefits that may be available through your spouse (e.g. Post 911 Education Benefit Transfer) and their timeframe for use.
Contact the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Career Center at myseco.militaryonesource.mil/Portal for personalized help with exploring your education options.
Choosing a program
Your chosen career path will determine the type of program you’ll need to meet your field’s educational requirements, which may include a degree, professional license or certification.
Certificate programs focus on specific skills and are typically offered by community colleges or technical schools. The requirements are set by professional and industry organizations. Make sure your school meets the requirements before you enroll.
Offered by community colleges, an associate degree is typically a 2-year degree focusing on entry-level specialization within a field. Most programs are completed in 20 classes.
Four-year colleges or universities award a bachelor's degree in the arts or sciences after completing about 40 classes. Many career fields are open to you with a bachelor's degree. Others (like medicine or psychology) generally require advanced degrees.
•Advanced degree. Degrees beyond the bachelor's degree can include master's, specialist, and doctoral degrees
Help for common obstacles
Everyone can face obstacles to continuing their education, but military spouses can face extra hurdles. These resources can help you overcome some of these issues:
Common obstacles to education for military spouses are PCSing and frequent moves. When choosing a program, find out if your credits will be transferable. You can also review online education options, a route that's increasingly popular with military spouses. Be sure to thoroughly research the legitimacy of any online program. Some universities have satellite campuses for military students, which provides a more traditional school experience while accommodating the mobile military life.
Going back to school can be a financial burden. Military OneSource is an excellent resource for finding financial aid options. The U.S. Department of Education provides billions of dollars of educational loans and grants for qualifying students each year.
Reap the rewards of going back to school, because you're worth it. Using these resources can help ease your transition.