Too many of you are attending online degree programs. I know you are thinking ‘but Casey attending college is a good thing and I’m getting my degree while working around my crazy military schedule.’
Guess what, you have something other people want that is of great value: tuition assistance and the GI Bill (aka $$$). There are hundreds of colleges that would love nothing more than to pair 20 of you up with a professor working out of his home, easily clearing $10K per class due to having no physical overhead. You get an easy path to a degree and they make money. Everybody benefits, right? Wrong!
Nobody is going to discourage someone that wants to get their degree. So education counselors, your supervisor, and others are not going to tell you that your degree program is crap. But the bottom line is you are selling yourself short when you get your bachelor’s through somewhere like American Military University.
Go Brick and Mortar
Why is attending a brick and mortar college so important? Employers have strong perceptions about your degree program. When looking at your college they consider the competitiveness and difficulty in getting accepted to and making it through that program.
These employers can sniff out an easy online program a mile away. When they recognize it, they will disregard that portion of your resume and look for other ways to validate your experience and skills.
Do you really want to spend all that time and money getting your degree only to have nobody take it seriously?
Here are some of the reasons I’ve heard that military attend college online:
- It is more convenient – it sure is! That convenience comes at a cost
- I deploy a lot so am unable to attend college in person – have you talked to your supervisor and asked to have a four-month window at home so you can attend school? I am willing to bet many supervisors would work with someone to reasonably allow them to attend
- There are no good colleges in my area – have you considered going to a junior college and later transferring those credits to another college? Or maybe waiting until your next assignment?
Valid Reasons to Attend Online
I know there are some legitimate reasons to attend college online. For the most part, the military does not care where you got your degree from. So attending online to ‘checking boxes’ to meet promotion requirements is valid.
You can also get your degree anywhere online and use it to commission as an officer. If that is your primary goal than an online program could work for you. However, keep in mind when you attend online programs that are good for the military but bad for outside employers, you are limiting your options. I don’t want the military to be my only employment option. So I’m going to go to the best school possible, just in case a full military career does not work out.
Summing it Up
I get that military life is difficult and sometimes only college is your only option. But please don’t consider it as the first option. Maximize your education benefits and take care of yourself. Take the more difficult path and get the best degree you can possibly earn. You will be better off for it.