By Dan Roby
Director, Eastern Region and Overseas Military Outreach at American Military University
In the 27 years I spent in the Air Force a common issue with continuing education while serving was having to pick up and leave for each move. A majority of that time was before online education hit the airwaves. Every time I was transferred to another Air Force Base, I would have to change colleges, which also meant changing degree plans and being at the mercy of new transfer credit guidelines. I attended 11 different universities until I finally attended an online university and finished the last year of my bachelor’s degree. The mobility of an online education is nice, especially in the military world. It’s especially helpful when all you have to do is close up your laptop and take your college with you when you move to another part of the world.
Going hand in hand with my first reason, is flexibility. Many online degree programs have flexible start dates, extensions when necessary, and professors who understand the challenges you may face as an adult learner. Military members need to really consider this aspect of the online education environment since they are constantly on the move and their location could change at a moment’s notice. Having a flexible start date is also important because it allows you to begin your course at a time that works best for someone with a sometimes inflexible work schedule.
Wide Range of Choices
My third reason on the list is that by looking at various online universities you will have a wide variety of degree programs to choose from versus having only the programs offered by the local colleges. What I found over my 27-year educational journey is that if you wanted to have the best chance of transferring credits, you needed to stay with one of the more standard degree programs. However, by picking an online university, you can normally find the exact program you desire, and stay with it until graduation.
Student Services Assistance
The list continues on with number four…having a high quality student services department to assist you. This is an area that has grown by leaps and bounds over the years in the online community. Universities that truly embrace the online culture understand that their students will not be able to meet with different offices at the university, so they have ensured that that capability exists online.
One of the most obvious cost savings is the room and board costs that are associated with attending a brick and mortar university. Additionally, traditional universities often have strict schedules that make holding a job extremely difficult. With online education you can plan your studies around your work schedule, instead of the other way around. Also, many online universities have embraced the use to technology and the use of e-books, which can drastically reduce the need to purchase costly textbooks. Some online universities even cover this cost through various scholarships and book grants.
So to review my top five reasons to attend an online university are:
#1: Ability to stay with a university all the way to graduation
#3: More extensive list of degree programs available
#4: Student Services availability
#5: Cost effectiveness
About the Author
Dan is a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant who served for 27 years. He joined the AMU Military Outreach Team in 2005 as the education coordinator for the FL, GA, AL and MS area. Since then he has been promoted and currently serves as the Director for the Eastern U.S. and Overseas Region military outreach team. During his years on active duty he attended 11 different universities, completing two AAS degrees through the Community College of the Air Force and ultimately graduated with a B.A. in Human Resource Management.