Whether you’re active duty or a veteran, going back to school is an excellent opportunity for you to start a new career or advance your skills. Finding the right school, however, isn’t always a simple process.
Before you enroll, you need to become a smart college consumer. That is, you need to learn as much as you can about the schools available, the academic program options, and why some may be better than others for your particular needs.
These Are the Smart Questions You Need to Ask
With hundreds of colleges and universities available to veterans, individuals need to sort through the options to find the one program that is going to give them the best ability to thrive after graduation. Sit down for a formal interview and consultation with a school admissions counselor to get insight into any programs which interest you. Ask these questions before you enroll.
What is Your Tuition and Fees Structure?
Start where it matters most – with costs. It’s important to understand all fees involved in this type of education. That includes the per-credit cost. Most military veterans will have access to a military tuition assistance program. If you qualify, you may have most of your tuition covered, but that may not include your actual fees – which can include books, enrollment fees, application fees, and more. Ask about scholarship options, too.
Is the Program Accredited?
Most career paths require attending an accredited school. That means that any professional association in the field you plan to study is recognized by the school’s educational program as one that’s high quality and effective. More so, if you plan to tap into financial aid for your education, such as through the GI Bill, you need to choose an accredited school. Don’t assume all large universities fall into this category.
Is the School a Part of the Servicemembers Opportunities Colleges?
Along the same lines, you need to choose a school, if possible, that is partnered with the Service members Opportunities Colleges or SOC. This association of more than 1,900 colleges and universities provides advocacy, support, and career and technical education options to you as a vet.
What Are Curriculum Options in Your Field of Interest?
Next, consider the curriculum options. Like any college student, you need to be sure the program offered is the best possible option for your career goals. Take the time to look for innovative new programs, those with advanced levels of educational options, and those that offer continuing education into Master and Ph.D. levels. These curriculum programs are often some of the most advanced.
What is the projected program completion time?
A two-year program may sound good, but does it really offer you the tools and resources you need to remain competitive in the industry? Take a closer look at what the program will teach you and how well it will prepare you for the future goals you have. That’s critical – you need to have the edge when you graduate.
What Happens After Graduation?
The next step is to focus specifically on what happens after you graduate. Does the program connect you with positions and employers in the field you’re most interested in? Will there be Career Services resources available to you?
Take the time to consider each school program and opportunity individually. The information and resources you obtain from these types of one-on-one meetings will help you tremendously as you plan your future. A quality educational program is always well worth the investment, especially if it helps you achieve your long-term goals.