Military Veterans: Freedom to Choose your Higher Education Institution

You have honorably completed your military service and now want to put your Post- 9/11 GI Bill education benefits to good use. Unlike when you were active duty and using Tuition Assistance, you now have more freedom of choice and may select from a plethora of institutions to reach your educational goals. However, as with all freedoms, there also comes responsibility.

You will most likely have many responsibilities after leaving the service to include a family, employment, and possibly more. These adult responsibilities make the accessibility and flexibility of online classes attractive and possibly your best choice. However, higher education institutions that offer online options are not all created equal.

You want to ensure that your hard earned limited benefits are put to good use and not wasted. Too many Veterans have ended up in debt with no degree and no job. Just like when buying a car…in education you must inspect under the hood. When determining which institution is best for your situation you should consider the “Three R’s”:

Regional:
Ensure that your education institution of choice has regional or national accreditation.  This indicates that it has and will stand the test of time and will provide recognized value for your learning efforts. Are the classes offered transferable to other institutions? If they are not you may want to reconsider as this raises your exit barriers which limits choice and also may indicate a lower value of learning. Ideally your credits are transferable across a region of institutions.

Reputable:
Along with being accredited you should determine how the faculty is trained and certified. Do they have specific online instructor training? Are your classes revisited and updated on a reasonable periodic time table? Which class of institutions has the best reputation? That of course is debatable. However, note that the top 13 schools for the Fortune 500 CEOs during 2012 were all traditional public or private brick and mortar institutions, such as Harvard, Stanford, University of Virginia, etc. Most traditional state and private institutions now offer quality online courses and degree options.

Resourced:
How is your institution of choice spending money? Is it on course content and quality delivery or advertising and recruiting? Is academic excellence their primary goal or is it making a profit and pleasing investors? What is the completion rate of classes or degrees? If the graduation rate is low it may indicate student dissatisfaction. Also, it is wise to check on the student loan default rate as this is an indicator of not only degree completion but job marketability, as well.


After you have thoroughly researched the “Three R’s” you must consider the total cost of your education plan. You must look beyond the credit hour cost and also consider institution fees and availability of electronic text materials, which may be free in many cases. All of these factors can contribute to reducing the overall cost.

Online learning may provide the flexibility, accessibility, and affordability that align with your Post-9/11 GI Bill budget and timeline. Taking the time and effort to research and look under the hood is the first step on your journey toward a degree and your next professional career.

To learn about the options available for our military men and women through eCore, please visit ecore.usg.edu/military today.

Randy Blackmon
eCore Senior Enrollment Manager
Retired U.S. Navy Captain
rblackmo@westga.edu | 678.839.4898






0 comments: