By Rebecca Alwine
Alumna, American Military University
With the ability to transfer GI Bill benefits to spouses, often both the spouse and the service member are in school at the same time. With the op tempo slowing down, there is a perceived notion that military life is more stable, dull, and family friendly. It simply isn’t true.
Service members attending school are working long days and then taking classes. Their spouses are keeping the home front together while working and/or caring for children. So, how do military families make it work when both spouses are taking classes?
In a word, balance. Just as we balance everything else in this roller-coaster military life, we have to balance education. Here are some real life examples from military spouses who’ve been through this.
Laurel and Eric Frock are both taking classes, Laurel for professional development and Eric for his degree plan. With four kids under 8, a dog, and several volunteer obligations, there is a lot going on in the Frock household, but they make it work. “We have separate workstations and computers,” Laurel explains. “We make time for the other and rearrange schedules if needed.”
It is absolutely imperative that couples communicate effectively, especially when both are working towards a goal. “In fact, Eric took leave just today so I could attend a professional development class,” Laurel explains.
Mark and Malori Mayor also worked on degrees at the same time. One year of balancing active duty army, graduate school for Mark, and a new program for Malori was hard. “One big pro was that Mark only had a year of course work because his military schooling counted as credits,” Malori remembers.
There was also financial strain as they both paid for education. “Mark got some tuition assistance from the Army, but part of it was out of pocket. And this was before I got any scholarships for school, so it strained the budget.”
Balance, communication, and mutual respect guarantee a successful partnership and productivity while pursuing professional development and educational goals. Planning courses in a way that doesn’t over-tax your schedules or your budget and communicating regularly to make sure both spouses are getting the support they need can go a long way to making a two student household successful.
About the Author: Rebecca Alwine has been a military spouse for over 8 years, traveling the world and learning about herself. She’s discovered she enjoys running, loves lifting weights, is a voracious reader, and actually enjoys most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Rebecca earned her Masters of Disaster from AMU and a BA in Geography from the University of Mary Washington. Her writing has been published both in AUSA’s ARMY Magazine, Military Spouse Magazine, and multiple digital magazines and blogs. You can follow her on Twitter and at her personal blog.