You’ve probably heard the term “military-friendly” used over and over again while researching which college or university you should attend. A recent Google search for “military friendly universities” yielded over 1.2 million results. So, how do you narrow down the list? By understanding that “military-friendly” is more than just a slogan that any university can use, it’s what lies beneath that motto that matters most. Here are some military-friendly attributes that you should consider when deciding which institution is the right fit for you:
The cost of education can vary greatly by institution and by degree program. As a service member, you are eligible to receive Tuition Assistance (TA) from the Department of Defense. No matter the amount of TA you qualify for, a military-friendly university will seek to minimize your out of pocket expenses through tuition discounts, scholarships and textbook grants.
Whether you are entering college for the first time or returning after taking some time off, minimizing the amount of time it will take to earn your degree is important. Because of your military service, you have several options for transfer credits, including previous college coursework, military training and your Military Occupation Specialty (MOS). Each institution has its own policy regarding transfer credit, so it is important to do your homework.
Not all college courses are created equal, so it is important to choose a university whose learning format meets your needs. If the flexibility of online learning is the right fit for you, keep in mind that not all online courses are created equal. Some online courses have required log-in times and group work, while others allow you to study and submit assignments when it is convenient for you, as long as you meet the prescribed deadlines.
If you prefer a traditional classroom setting, be sure that you understand the attendance policy for each course. because if you miss too many classes, even if it is for military duty, your grade could be reduced or you could be dropped from the course.
The length of the course may also be an important factor. College courses can range from four to 16 weeks in length. If you want to progress through your degree program at a faster pace, choose a program that offers six or eight week courses in an accelerated format.
Whether you are a military or a civilian student, the support and services that an institution offers are very important. Find out which schools offer faculty office hours, tutoring programs, academic advising, mentoring and career services.
Be sure that the institution you choose understands the unique challenges that come with being both a service member and a student. Ask each school about their policies for military students who have to deploy, withdraw, or take a leave of absence from their courses because of their service duties. All of these items are very easy to discover through a simple phone call to the university’s admissions office.
Any college or university can advertise that they are military-friendly, but don’t take it at face value; it’s the policies and procedures that are in place and the institution’s knowledge and understanding of the military and the unique challenges that military students face that is truly important.
Policies for Military Students
Maximum Transfer Credit