09 Apr Finding the Best Colleges to Continue Your Education as a Military Retiree
After years of serving in the military, it’s easy to become excellent at performing your job. If you’ve been in the military for 20 years of more, you probably have earned your share of commendations, ribbons and medals, especially if you have been deployed into combat missions. Unless you’ve spent your military career working jobs that are comparable to civilian jobs your civilian jobs skills might be rusty, in need of polishing.
You also might be wondering if you have the communications, negotiating and leadership skills to navigate your way through the civilian job market. After all, you’ve been away from the civilian job market for several years, perhaps as long as two decades.
Finding the Best Colleges and Universities
Continuing your college education at top accredited post-secondary schools is a way that you can bridge the gap between your military work skills and skills that will allow you to fill requirements listed with civilian job openings. However, it’s important that you enroll in the best colleges as there are many post-secondary schools, for profit and not-for-profit colleges and universities, that work hard to receive military tuition assistance, making you attractive to administrators at these schools.
College rankings reports provided by publications and organizations like U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review and The Washington Post, can save you lots of time as you compare schools. These reports provide rankings on items such as financial aid, numbers of students attending the schools, school setting, administrative policies, extracurricular activities for students and political events at the schools.
Comparing Options at Top Colleges and Universities
In addition to reviewing college rankings reports, you can make the transition from military to civilian life easier on yourself by enrolling in accredited colleges and universities as soon as you retire, while you’re focused on giving yourself the best opportunities to excel as a leader in the civilian workforce. Here are a few things to consider when comparing schools:
- College and university founding dates (this will let you know how long the postsecondary schools have been in operation)
- Student demographics (if you attend colleges and universities that have a sizable military population, you may increase your chances of enrolling in postsecondary schools that are managed by administrators who understand challenges unique to military retirees)
- Accreditation (This cannot be overstated. Check to ensure that colleges and universities you’re thinking about attending are fully accredited (not in the process of getting accredited) by organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education as not all accrediting organizations are recognized by the Department.)
- Career Services (top schools have full-time career counselors who work with major employers to help students gain jobs before or soon after they graduate with degrees)
- Tuition and fees (look at classroom and distance learning tuition and fees, especially if you’re thinking about taking virtual courses)
- Professors’ background/work history (many postsecondary schools provide information on key professors including their work, speaking and writing experience)
Also make sure that colleges and universities you’re thinking about enrolling at are centrally located. Furthermore, consider enrolling in college with a military buddy or your spouse as having someone to share study and school work concerns with can make finishing college easier. Take advantage of military tuition assistance programs like the Post 9/11 GI Bill when it comes time to pay for your college tuition. Depending on the school you attend, you may be able to get up to $17,500 a year in military tuition assistance.