By Bradley Hood
Contributor, In Military Education
I remember coming back from campus and sitting down with my mother to discuss options for my future education. I had spent the last year at a nearby state college, a way for me to stay close to family and friends. I had not considered what would suit me and my career goals best, and after I enlisted in the Marine Reserves between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college, I knew it was time to reconsider. Personally, I came across American Military University in an internet search, and was intrigued by the military friendly character of the school, the promise of field experienced professors, the variety of degrees offered, and the chance to pursue a degree in a flexible environment at my own pace. My mother was not as confident as I was that transferring from a traditional school to AMU was a good decision, but after we did some research together, she agreed that I should try it if I felt that was where I needed to take my education.
It was the best decision I have made regarding my education. I can confidently say that if I had not transferred from Rutgers, where I was struggling to balance my obligations to the Reserves, commitment to the Platoon Leader’s Course program, while still living a regular on campus lifestyle, I would not be where I am in life today. Some reservists make this arrangement work, but it simply was not a good match for me – and my program and professors did not engage me in my education in the way I needed to be motivated. I thrive in a self-motivated environment, and as I felt more responsible for acquiring the knowledge required to pass my courses, I ended up learning more than I ever did in a traditional classroom!
Since that day in 2009 my mother has begun an online Master of Divinity program (she already has a traditional MBA), and though she sometimes takes on too many obligations in her life to really have enough time for this, she has found it to be a good match for her. I have also spoken with many students at traditional schools who now have experience with online classes offered by their brick-and-mortar schools as supplements.
It seems that online education is the way of the future, and many respected universities have begun to offer 100% online degrees. There is certainly a lot less stigma associated with an online education than there used to be (Although I would not be honest with you if I said I was not given a bit of a hard time about it while at OCS, but then again, what do not they give a hard time for?).
The question is: Does online education suit you? To answer this, you should try an online course out. Many institutions offer an online learning class designed to help you prepare for an online degree program. Online education requires more discipline and self-motivation, but can be extremely rewarding, and most importantly – offers individuals with full time jobs or in the military the opportunity to pursue a degree on a full time basis. Unlike night classes, you can take the time to “go to class” anywhere. That being said, it can also be extremely frustrating if you do not know what to expect, so make a choice that is going to work meets your budget and academic goals. If you are thinking about making the switch to online education for a degree, or are just curious about taking a class or two, definitely take a look into taking a class to get a feel for what online education is all about!
Bio: Bradley Hood is a Marine Corps Second Lieutenant in IRR status with 5 years of prior enlisted experience. He is a recent graduate of American Military University, and currently is working towards a Master’s degree in Military History through Norwich. Bradley lives with his beautiful wife in historic NJ.