Tagged: military spouse education

It’s Back to School! 5 Habits of Highly Successful Online College Students

Posted by Debi Teter
StudentAh, it’s that time of year that parents all across the country anticipate more than their kids anticipate Santa’s visit. It’s time to send the kiddos back to school! But what about you? Are you a service member taking advantage of your military education benefits. Are you putting your toe in the online education waters for the first time as you pursue a degree? If you’re one of those adult students jumping into the world of school again for the first time in a while, check out these five habits that will help you be a success:
  1. Break it down.  No, this is not about dancing. This is about taking a good look at what you have to accomplish during the semester and deconstructing big, unwieldy goals into smaller, achievable tasks.   For example: If you know you have to read two chapters each week, break that down into ten pages a day. Or if you have a 50-page term paper due in a month, plan to write 13 pages a week. Plan the work and work the plan.
  2. Show up. It sounds easy, but we all know it’s not. Online classes are different than red brick classrooms. It can be extremely tempting to gloss over assigned videos, multi-task during lectures and slip in and out of the room. Don’t do it or (trust me) it will become a habit. A bad habit, one that causes you to miss test-worthy information and damage your grade. A huge part of success in life is simply showing up. When you don’t, you miss out. Don’t miss out.
  3. Be a joiner.  This one can be tough for introverts.  Give it a try anyway. Seek out productive study groups, labs, discussion boards, weekly Skype review sessions or any other group resources that allow you to connect with other people, clarify any confusing topics, get study hints or just exchange ideas. The biggest benefit to this is the human connection. If you’re struggling in a class you will probably find quickly that you’re not alone in your struggle. There’s strength in numbers if you’ll make room for them.
  4. Maintain.  A lot of times, people who feel pressure start neglecting the basics. Don’t. Make sure you get enough rest, eat healthfully, and exercise your body. Talk with trusted friends or family if you are stressed and listen if they offer coping suggestions.  Managing a complicated schedule leaves little time for dealing with illness or burnout. The best way to avoid either is by practicing daily self-care – especially when you don’t feel like it.
  5. Protect your time. Give family and friends clear “no-fly-zone” instructions – and enforce them. Letting people know ahead of time when you’ll be studying or doing homework sends the message that your studies are important to you, and it lets them know not to interrupt.  True friends will support your goals and be understanding if you have to decline social activities for a little while.
Success in online education is a result of hard work, discipline and persistence. It doesn’t happen by accident. It can happen for you. These tips are just a handful of key habits adopted by successful online students. Have you tried any of these tips? Tell us how they worked for you in the comments.

The College Application Process for Servicemembers

Posted by Christine A. Shelly

militaryauthority.com college application process for militaryYou’ve made the decision to apply to college. Congratulations!

But now what? Like many students, you probably have a lot of questions. Questions like:

  • How many application forms do I really have to fill out? 
  • What kind of information am I expected to provide to schools?
  • And if you’re a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, or a military spouse, you’re probably wondering what other surprises are lurking in the application process for you.  

This post will bring a little dose of reality to what can become a very surreal process for many people.

First of all, the average complete college application is usually made up of about seven components. I say “about” seven because not every college requires every component. We’ll talk about each of these seven categories, because they’re the ones that most schools require. 

  1. Forms/Fees 
  2. Transcripts (High School, any transfer credit, military experience/training) 
  3. Test scores (SAT/ACT/unique tests)
  4. Recommendations
  5. Essays 
  6. Portfolio/Auditions – for performing arts majors 
  7. Interviews

 

Forms/Fees

About 500 colleges use an online application form called the Common Application. This is exceptionally helpful if you’re applying to half a dozen different schools and they all use the Common Application – you enter your information once, select the schools you want, and you’ve completed one step for all six of your schools at once.  Time saved. 

Before you fill out your application form(s) you’ll want to review them to determine what (if any) information you’ll need to collect from your parents. You’ll also want to find out what your high school or service branch will send directly to your potential colleges – if they won’t send transcripts or records on your behalf, you’ll want to make arrangements to send them yourself. 

Also good to know: the admission application is not the same thing as the financial aid application (or application for military education benefits). Those are two very distinct application processes.

Lastly, even when you use the Common Application, you will need to send each school their individual app fee, which can be anywhere from $35 – 100 each. Military students, military spouses and veterans may qualify for fee waivers or reimbursement through their education benefits, so if you fall into either of those categories be sure to double-check. Sometimes a school may not come out and say they’ll waive veterans’ applications fees – you have to contact the admissions office directly and ask.

Continue to the other 6 components…

 

Read more from Christine and if you’re a student, tell us how your college application process went in the comments.

 

REFERENCES:

College Application Reality Check

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_admissions_in_the_United_States

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-admissions-insider/2011/06/27/8-strategies-for-starting-your-college-application-process

http://www.nacacnet.org/research/PublicationsResources/Marketplace/student/Pages/AdmissionGuide.aspx 

 

What is the #collegeapplicationprocess like for members of #USArmedForces?


A Shift in Mindset Can Help Military Spouse’s Employment Search

Posted by Kelli McKinney

militaryauthority.com military spouse employment searchMarriage – whether military or civilian – is about cooperation. It’s hard work making a relationship between two unique people successful. And when one (or more) of those people are committed to a military career, it can feel like there’s a third person in the relationship at times. A military marriage often contains the needs and well being of three: the two spouses plus the nation.

Most military spouses are extremely proud of their career soldier, and share similar views of service, honor, duty, and integrity, whether or not they choose a military career for themselves. But what happens when the career aspirations of one spouse need to take a back seat to the other?

That’s not an uncommon situation in marriage. The vision of a 50-50 partnership might be a bit short-sighted, when you consider that, very likely, the single constant in any marriage is the love and commitment shared between the two people. Everything else – jobs, homes, hobbies, possessions, kids – changes.  Perhaps these few simple tips can help bring the military spouse some peace in their search for employment.

  1. Who you are is more important than what you do. Are you passionate about reading, or music? Do you have a passion for nutrition, or science, or serving others? Think about what you can contribute as opposed to whether your particular field has a set career path to follow (spoiler: most don’t). If you’re between jobs at the moment, just spending a little time doing something you enjoy – or even taking classes to learn about something you’re interested in – can help.
  2. You’re a professional. If you think of yourself as “an unemployed sales representative,” or “out-of-work aerobics instructor” guess what you’ll probably be? But if you shift your thoughts just a little bit, away from limiting job titles and toward what you want to do, that opens up your potential. For example, “sales rep” above might consider himself a “professional influencer.” The “aerobics instructor” might switch gears into “fitness professional.” This slight shift can help you make the leap from feeling like you’re being shuffled from job to job to realizing that you have knowledge and experience to give. Even if you have to wait tables a little while in a new town while you seek new opportunities, changing the way you think about your skills can make a huge difference.
  3. Remember why you’re here. It’s easy to get discouraged and bitter during a dry spell. Thinking of happier times, and remembering the excitement of the early days of your adventure will help the discomfort pass. Share your feelings with your spouse, friends or family, and remember that your service member also has days like this – you will carry each other through them.

Get more practical career advice and education tips for military spouses at militaryauthority.com.

Five Hot Jobs for New Grads

Posted by Kelli McKinney

new college graduatesCollege graduations were happening all around us last month. With a little hard work and preparation, all those hours of study will pay off with that most coveted reward: A job.

That’s right –the job market is now full of another fresh wave of newly-minted college graduates just like you. If you haven’t already begun networking, interning, crafting a resume, volunteering and applying for work, now’s the time to get cracking.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s hard to know where to look to find professional, entry-level, well-paying positions.

Below are five solid, professional, entry-level positions for career-minded people who have earned their degree. These jobs are excellent launching pads for careers, have realistic starting salaries and offer potential for long-term professional growth.

And as a bonus, if you are a military spouse or dependent, or if you are planning to leave the service in the next year or so, working towards a degree in these fields can still pay off down the road. They are all expected to remain as hot jobs for the next few years.

 

Web Designer

If You Are: A hybrid, as keen with the technical as you are the creative. You stay abreast of technological developments, are deadline-oriented and enjoy teamwork.

And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or related field.

Then You Can: Design Web sites and develop Web applications.

Salary and Growth Potential: Entry level Web designers generally earn a median salary of $50K. Those with more experience usually gain greater responsibility, including managing staff and more complex projects.

 

Computer Programmer

If You Are: An adept creator and problem solver.

And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Then You Can: Write and develop computer programs.

Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level computer programmers typically earn a median salary of $54K. Those with a successful track record can grow into supervisory or managerial roles with additional responsibilities.

 

Database Analyst

If You Are: Someone with superb attention to detail and a methodical approach to problem solving, with a knack for uncovering project requirements and underlying needs.

And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.

Then You Can: Develop, coordinate and manage databases.

Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level database analysts generally earn a median salary of $55K. Solid performance usually results in advancement to supervisory and managerial level.

 

Environmental Engineer

If You Are: An inquisitive person with excellent research skills who loves both the environment and problem solving.

And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Then You Can: Engineer solutions that work to control environmental health hazards.

Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level environmental engineers usually earn a median salary of $52K while working with more experienced engineers. Successful performance will yield additional responsibility.

 

Marketing Coordinator

If You Are: An observer and appreciator of behavioral trends with keen research and strategic skills.

And You Have: A bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or economics.

Then You Can: Assist with product or service demand forecasting, demographic analysis and campaign planning.

Salary and Growth Potential: Entry-level marketing coordinators earn a median salary of $49K. Strong performance and experience can result in advancement to manager, director or vice president.

 

Regardless of the job field, an investment in your education is an investment in your growth potential. If you haven’t selected your degree program yet, research areas that are a good fit with your personal strengths, interests and career development potential.

Military students can also prepare by discussing their transition into school or civilian workforce with a transition counselor.

Find a school that fits your education goals with our School Finder and start planning your new career now! 

Great Online Degree Options for Transitioning Service Members or Military Spouses

Posted by Kelli McKinney

online degree programs for militaryYou’ve sacrificed for your country, traveled to places beyond your imagination and dedicated your life to your job. And now you’ve decided that it’s time to make a change. Perhaps education is part of your plan, but you know that you will need to work, care for your growing family and go to school in order to make it happen. It’s a scheduling challenge, to be sure, but it’s not impossible.

Exactly how is this supposed to work, you may be wondering?  Two words: Online. Education.

An online degree program gives you the structure of a degree program, deadlines to work against, and support from professors, advisors, and students – but puts you in the driver’s seat. They’re a smart choice for many working adults because they offer the prestige of an accredited university along with the flexibility that online services provide plus they acquaint you with technology like video conferencing and shared workspaces that you will encounter in many workplaces.

If this sounds like an option for you, consider these popular online degree programs.

 

Business Administration

Looking for an entrance to the business world? Look no further than a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

The Appeal: It’s the closest to a “jack-of-all-trades” degree you can find. The business administration degree provides a solid foundation in the basic building blocks of industry: finance, accounting, marketing and communication. These skills are what most employers seek, regardless of how the economy is performing.

The Degree: The College Board, an academic group that administers exams like the SAT, says that a degree in business administration teaches students how to “plan, organize, direct, and control an organization’s activities. “

The Career Potential: Anything from a personal financial advisor to a marketing research analyst can begin with a bachelor in business administration. 

 

Accounting

If numbers are your thing, check out a degree program in accounting to jump-start a successful career.

The Appeal: When all is said and done, companies need someone who knows how to balance the books and pay the bills.  This makes the tools of the accounting trade desirable now and for years to come.

The Degree: Most accounting students learn about financial measurements and methodology, plus specialized areas like business law, government accounting, auditing and nonprofit financial performance.

The Career Potential: The possibilities are extensive with an accounting degree. From tax examiner or auditor to analyst or accountant, this degree can prepare you for a number of careers with staying power.

 

Health Care Administration

Thanks to the nearly indestructible baby boomers, a health care administration degree is a highly desirable asset.

The Appeal: Health care service providers are gearing up to serve their communities, and with the numerous changes taking place in the medical insurance industry, there will likely continue to be a need for savvy administrators for the foreseeable future.

The Degree: Health care administration majors learn all fathomable aspects of overseeing health care facilities.  According to the College Board, coursework can include health care law, ethics, aging, and long-term care.

The Career Potential: This degree is a must-have if you want to be an executive administrator in the medical field, according to the U. S. Department of Labor.

 

Communications

With the click of a mouse, any message can be delivered in virtually any media anywhere within seconds. If this fact fascinates you, you are not alone. This is why communications degrees are in demand.

The Appeal: Organizations need people who know how to craft, distribute, and monitor messaging in order to both protect their brand and help grow it successfully.

Degree Details: In addition to learning how to read, write and speak publicly, communication majors learn to deconstruct a media message and debate issues.

The Career Potential: A bachelor’s degree in communications is one option to help you prep to pursue a public relations management position, according to the U. S. Department of Labor. You can also take a communications degree to get a job in marketing, advertising and marketing communications.

 

Computer Science

To paraphrase Madonna, we live in a technological world.  If you’re tech-savvy and want to continue to adapt with the ever-changing times, a degree in computer science might give you the staying power you seek.

The Appeal: Application and software development are going to continue to be needed as long as we continue to work and play on mobile devices. 

The Degree: Courses in computer science degree programs usually include programming in various “languages” as well as software design and user interaction.

The Career Potential: Application and software developers, system administrators and technicians usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or in a related field.

 

Education

Molding the next generation of thinkers and do-ers is a noble – and much needed – pursuit. If this appeals to you, a bachelor’s degree in education could be the way to go.

The Appeal: Baby boomers are beginning to exit the workforce, and their absence is not going to go unnoticed.  The need for strong teachers is perhaps more urgent than it has been in several years.

The Degree: Education majors study curriculum theory, teaching strategies, special education needs, educational psychology, and practical issues like lesson plan design, school health, and safety issues. 

The Career Potential: To teach in a public school, you must have a license from the state plus a bachelor’s degree in education.  

 

To find a school that offers a program matching your interests, use the Military Authority School Finder. 

Moving the Goalposts: Army Slashes GI Bill “Sharing” Program

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Army Slashes GI Bill “Sharing” ProgramYou want to transfer your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member? You must now sign on for an additional four-year hitch. The new requirement applies no matter what your time in service is. Retirement eligible? You’ve already done your 20? Tough. Sign on for an additional four years.

That’ a significant shift in policy: Up until the April 15th announcement, you could transfer benefits to family members with an additional service requirement of one to three years, and in some cases, zero years. The new policy is effective August 1st.

That’s right: The Army and the other services except for the Navy tried to save money last month by eliminating the Tuition Assistance program – until they got smacked by Congress. Now they’re looking for other ways to lower their education/benefits bill. A recent Army Times piece indicates that Congress is quite willing to consider further cuts to pay and benefits, as the federal government moves to tighten up its defense outlays.

Meanwhile, spouses and children benefiting from the transferability of Post-9-11 GI Bill benefits make up about a fourth of all GI Bill educational benefits recipients, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year, according to reporting by Navy Times.

This is going to weigh heavily on soldiers who had planned to transfer benefits to children who don’t start school until the fall semester or later. Money these soldiers planned on using for their own childrens’ education has now gone up in smoke, unless they extend their time in service.

However, according to the Army’s Human Resources Command, soldiers who transfer benefits and who are then involuntarily separated because of a reduction in force will not have to repay the VA for these transferred benefits.

In addition to the RIF exception, the Army also announced the following exceptions: 

  1. The death of the soldier.
  2. Discharge or release from active duty for a medical condition which pre-existed the service of the soldier and was not service connected.
  3. Discharge or release from active duty for hardship.
  4. Discharge or release from active duty for a physical or mental condition not a disability and that did not result from the soldier’s own willful misconduct, but did interfere with the performance of duty.

 More details are available on the Army’s website.

FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Application Period Open From March 1 – 31

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

National Military Family Association logoThe Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) in association with the National Military Family Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation is pleased to announce the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Accredited Financial Counselor® Fellowship. Military spouses can apply to become a member of the 2013 class of fellows until March 31, 2013. This program provides military spouses with the education necessary to enter the financial counseling career field.

The fellowship covers the costs associated with completing the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) training and the first two attempts at both exams. Upon successful completion of the program and required practicum, the participant will be awarded the Accredited Financial Counselor® designation from AFCPE®.

Many employers such as credit unions, financial aid offices, and community housing agencies need well-trained, ethical and caring financial counselors to meet the increasing demand for financial counseling services. Military spouses can fill this need while building a rewarding career that is flexible enough to meet the demands of the military family lifestyle. Applications are accepted online and are due by midnight ET March 31, 2012.

 

(Press Release, Reprinted from the Military Family Association, http://www.militaryfamily.org.)

Financing a Degree in Tough Economic Times

Posted by Christine A. Shelly

financing a college degreeWhen I first joined Grantham College of Engineering, now Grantham University, almost 13 years ago, the median annual tuition rate to attend an in-state four-year college or university was about $3,200/year. Out-of-state college tuition, also at a public four-year university, was about $9,300/year. Now, just over a decade later, the median annual tuition in-state is about $8,500/year. Out of state tuition is out of sight at about $20,000/year. That’s a lot of money to fork over – or in most cases, a lot of money to finance. According to the US Consumer Financial Protection Board, at the end of first quarter 2012, outstanding student debt totaled an estimated $1 trillion.

Another area that has changed quite a bit over the past decade is the job market. The unemployment rate in 2003 was 6 percent. At the end of 2012, the unemployment rate was hovering at around 8.1 percent – for veterans, that rate for 18-24 year olds is just over 20 percent. Think about that for a moment: one in every five veterans ages 18-24 is unemployed. The total unemployment rate for all veterans over the age of 18 is 7 percent. In January of 2013, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 1,328 mass layoff actions (more than 50 employees were laid off at once), involving more than 134,000 workers. With federal furloughs looming and a number of employers making or considering reductions in workforce, competition for good jobs is fierce.

This picture may seem bleak, especially if you’re a prospective student or the parent of a prospective student. It may appear that the prospect of graduating with significant student loan debt is more likely than the prospect of graduating and securing a well paying job. But there are a number of ways for students to earn a degree without taking on significant financial debt at the same time. It may be even more important now, during tough economic times, to ensure your student is competitive by having a solid educational foundation.

The nonprofit group College Board authored a study in 2010 that compared median hourly wages of high school graduates with college graduates over time. For example, in 1982, the median hourly wage for high school graduates was about 50% lower than that of college graduates. Twenty-six years later, college graduates made more than double what high school graduates earned. This study is very similar to one completed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In that study, the results demonstrated that each additional year of education completed beyond high school results in increased hourly wages between 8%-13%. So what does this mean? Recent high school graduates and recent college graduates might be competing for some of the same jobs today – but in ten years, the college grad will be more likely to have a higher salary.

So how do we make college education less of a financial burden and more of a wise investment? Start by getting the facts. If you’re interested in a path of study at a particular school, ask for a line item cost estimate. Schools – especially those who participate in Department of Defense tuition assistance, Yellow Ribbon and GI Bill programs – are required to fully disclose costs. College cost calculators, like the one provided by Grantham University, are very useful tools. The best way to be prepared and build a financial plan is to know the facts.

If you’re a working adult considering college, your current employer may have a tuition assistance program or offer grants or scholarship money that would help offset your costs. Letting your employer know that you plan to attend school on your own time, at least in some cases, can demonstrate commitment to the company’s ongoing success. This is true especially if you plan to obtain a degree that will help you progress in your current field. If you aren’t sure whether or not your employer offers tuition reimbursement or other financial assistance, check with your HR department.

Another good resource for uncovering funding sources is your city or county public library. These places are often repositories for all kinds of civic information, including lists of local businesses and organizations who contribute to local scholarship and charitable funds. You can also do a simple Internet search using the search terms “scholarship funds” and your city or state’s name. Just use caution – no reputable, legitimate scholarship fund is going to ask you for bank information, a deposit, or social security number in order to apply for a scholarship.

If you are a member of the US Armed Forces, then you may have earned military education benefits that you, your spouse or your children can apply toward an education program. There are a number of ways to reduce the cost of education: CLEP testing, applying military training and service toward college credit, Tuition Assistance and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill are just a few. Veterans’ education benefits, by and large, expire ten years after leaving the service, so it’s worthwhile to explore your options sooner rather than later.

Finally, when looking at potential colleges, take a good look at online education offerings through accredited institutions. Many online programs offer quality courses, certificates and programs of study, just like those offered at more traditional state schools. But many online programs come without the traditional fees and overhead costs, so the bill you receive is typically much smaller than what you’ll find at brick-and-mortar institutions. Plus, you can attend class and study on your own schedule – rather than adjusting your world to school, school fits into your world.

Despite the current uncertain economic environment, an online education is a solid choice to bolster your future prospects. Education benefits — military, local, and federal — plus the high quality and reduced cost of online programs will allow you to make the most of all available resources.

 

Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.

Motivation for 2013

Posted by Kelli McKinney

Motivation for 2013We are now six weeks into the new year. Are you making the most of it?

Everyone has off days, even seemingly tireless military spouses or service members. On those days when there aren’t enough hours to get everything done, the chapters seem too long to read (or write) and the dreams seem too lofty to accomplish, it helps to remember that others have walked the rocky path before you.

I keep a couple of lists of inspirational quotes in strategic places around my house (tacked to the fridge, by the mail, and next to my computer) to help keep me moving during those times when I feel stagnant.

This Friday, I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you…

“When you think you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” —Thomas Edison

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” George Washington Carver

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson

“Freedom, privileges, options, must constantly be exercised, even at the risk of inconvenience.” Jack Vance

“The number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying.” Tom Hopkins

“You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”
Seth Godin

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” Stephen Covey

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” –Albert Schweitzer

“Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.” William Arthur Ward

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinion drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” Lyndon Johnson

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe


Now that you’re psyched up and ready to take on the day, what are you going to accomplish? What aren’t you going to accomplish is the better question, right? Ready to get that degree you’ve always wanted, or start that military-to-civilan job search?

What motivates you to keep going when times get tough? Share with us in the comments below.

 

Three Signs that It’s Time to Go Back to School

Posted by Kelli McKinney

going back to schoolWhen faced with the things called “life decisions” – you know, those times when you feel like whatever you choose is going to have a big effect on you and everyone you care about – wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of signal that told you that you were on the right track? A universal “Do this!” signal – or “Don’t Do This!” warning would be such a huge time saver, wouldn’t it?

While this article can’t really help you with all life’s important decisions, it might give you something to think about as you consider going back to school and finishing your degree.

If any of the following scenarios apply to you, it very well could be time to dust off your military education benefits and start finding a degree program that’s right for you.

 

Scenario # 1: You’ve Already Lived a Dream

If you are one of those fortunate people for whom their passion became their work – for example, if you dreamed of being a soldier and joined the Army after high school – you may find yourself ready to set your next goal.

It’s an amazing, beautiful thing to be satisfied with your work. Alternatively, when you hit a plateau and find yourself wondering “is this it?” – Well, that’s the opposite of satisfying and amazing.

One hallmark sign of successful people is that they are continually learning, growing, and setting new goals for themselves. If you find yourself wondering what the next challenge will be, you might be ready to chart yourself a new course. Going back to school is a great place to get ideas and start fresh.

 

Scenario #2: You’re Getting Lots of Interviews, but No Job Offers

Although this could also be considered a sign of a lousy job market, which is a sad reality, it can also be a sign that you need to strengthen your qualifications. No matter how much experience you gained, even in the military, there are some employers who only give serious consideration to candidates with a degree.

There’s no better way to increase your odds in a dicey job market than investing in your education and training. Being the strongest job candidate you can possibly be means finishing that degree – or starting a new one –so that you put your best foot forward.

Military service members, military spouses and their families can benefit even greater from perks like tuition assistance, the GI Bill, and earned credit transfers that will make your tuition dollars work harder.

 

Scenario #3: You’ve Been Passed Over for Promotion

There’s nothing more frustrating than putting in the hours and earning positive performance reviews but still being passed over for a promotion because your education level wasn’t where the boss thinks it should be. This can be aggravating for military spouses as well as transitioned service members.

This is also a huge red flag if you know that reductions in workforce are looming ahead. When layoffs lurk, those without a college degree are more vulnerable to the RIF than degree holders.

Fortunately, with online education programs, you can keep your day job while earning your degree. With unemployment hovering around those double-digits, increasing your odds at job security is worth the extra time it might take to earn that degree.

 

Sure, it would be great if life decisions came with a handy dandy checklist or – better yet – instruction manual and crystal ball, but they don’t. Trust yourself to know what’s best for you and your family, do your homework, and know that investing in yourself is never a waste.

If you are looking for a great place to start your search for a degree program, check out School Finder tool. You can search based on a number of military-friendly attributes through a database of more than 4,000 schools, and find information about degree and certification programs.