About 350,000 men and women will leave the military this year.
Some will leave on a Friday and want to start working toward a degree on Monday. Others want to take a few classes to supplement what they learned in service, and others just want to figure out what to do next.
But for almost every one of them, the first step is pretty much always the same.
“They go on the internet to figure out what fields they want to go into, and what the requirements are as far as education and experience,” says Desiree Butts, executive director of military and VA programs for National University. “They go to Google, they talk with friends who’ve gotten out of the service. Just knowing what the resources are and what next steps to take are their biggest challenges.”
For some servicemembers, on-campus classes work out well. But others — some of whom are also making a geographic transition back to the U.S. — need flexibility with both time and place. For these servicemembers, finding military-friendly colleges online is particularly important.
But making life decisions based on what you see on a phone or a computer can be a bit, well, impersonal. At the Online Information Center in Quantico, Va., new civilians and their families can learn about courses through an interactive, self-guided tour. If they want to, they can preview actual online courses before enrolling.
“We can discuss educational goals, go over financial aid options, and get you started on the right online degree or certificate program,” says Butts.
The same holds true for all of National University’s 36 admissions offices across the country. Fifteen of them are on military installations, so those transitioning out of the military don’t even have to leave their post to start working on their plans.
One of those locations is Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. It includes a testing center, where students can take advantage of CLEP and DSST programs, which award credits for subjects students have already mastered. For example, if a servicemember is fluent in Spanish, he or she can pass the test and not have to take a foreign language class, saving time and tuition.
National University was awarded the Gold Award by the Military Friendly Company in its 2019 survey of military-friendly colleges. One reason is that National University offers more than 90 degree programs that are available 100 percent online. These programs are delivered using the latest technology to provide dynamic, interactive online learning environments, and can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
National offers courses for people looking to learn more about a subject or career, more about themselves, or even get their online degrees. Servicemembers can explore a variety of online options including associate, bachelor’s, master’s degree programs, plus certificate and credential programs in a variety of academic disciplines.
Along the way, those transitioning out of the military can take advantage of National’s Military Affairs Office at Quantico. It’s there to support servicemembers and their families, and help them obtain financial aid, including scholarships, loans, grants, and special military tuition programs.
There’s one more thing that sets National apart. Most colleges, even military-friendly colleges, still adhere to the traditional higher ed calendar. Classes start in September and end just before Christmas, then start back up in January and end in May.
But for servicemembers who have just been discharged (not to mention those still on active duty), there’s another reason that National is one of the most military-friendly colleges online — its one-month classes offer flexibility that other programs do not.
“One of the biggest things that makes us different from every other school is our four-week format,” Butts says. Classes begin monthly and are delivered in an intensive four-week time period, allowing you to accelerate your educational timeline or to schedule class commitments around other obligations that may come up or even while you are still in active service.
That’s important because it allows former servicemembers to squeeze more learning into a shorter timeframe, and since most are going to school under the GI Bill, it lets them get more from their 36 months of benefits.
“During their 36 months of benefits, they can take 36 classes,” Butts says, “as opposed to maybe 25 or 30 classes.”
National isn’t just jumping on the online bandwagon. It has been offering flexible, online degrees for more than 20 years. And it’s that word “flexible” that means so much to veterans and makes National such a military-friendly college. As any recent servicemember can tell you, there’s a lot to balance between transitioning to civilian life, finding a new job or career, spending time with the family, and then going to school.
Online learning lets former servicemembers, who are used to being get-up-and-go, take part in an online discussion before breakfast, log in at their lunch hour to check an assignment, and wrap up a paper late at night.
“At National, we’re here for the vet,” Butts says. “That is our focus.”
For more information on how to ease your transition from the military to higher education, and find the most military-friendly colleges online, please visit our military admissions program page.