Are there Advantages to Veterans for Taking Classes On Campus?

If you are a veteran considering earning a college degree, online courses can sound tempting, but is there an advantage to taking classes on campus? The GI Bill has made it easy for military personnel to get a college education; post 9/11 changes in the bill allow for payment of in-state tuition and a monthly amount for books, supplies and housing. Deciding whether online or traditional education is best for you is a matter of personal choice.

Who are the Veterans

You are in great company as a veteran student. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, more than 900,000 of you have taken advantage of veteran’s student benefits between 2000 and today. You only represent four percent of the student body, but colleges stand ready to offer you the degree you need to make a career in the civilian world. Most of you live in California, and most of you have families. You are older than the typical student, and have seen more of life. That experience can translate into college credits, by the way. Women make up 27 percent of veteran students. Many of you have families and jobs. In short, you are going to have a different college experience than those kids, fresh out of high school.

Online Classes are Not Always the Best Choice

Though they tout flexibility, online schools sometimes leave students foundering in the unstructured environment. They can also be impersonal. When there is a problem, you become an email message sent to a virtual advisor instead of a warm body sitting in your advisor’s office. Plus, some online for-profit schools have unsavory business practices that can target you because you are approved for funding. Still, there are many reputable online programs and most traditional schools have online components, if not entire online degree programs. So, why might on-campus classes be best for you?

Brick and Mortar Schools offer Many Advantages

An article on U.S. News.com talks about the flexibility of online programs, but points out that there is a downside to that. If you don’t have good time management skills, or if you have trouble making study a priority, traditional classrooms may be better for you. You may have a family or a job that has to receive some attention. The temptation is to put your study off while you attend to other things. Online courses allow you to do that, but in a traditional environment you must attend class and make accommodations for the other parts of your life. You might learn better in an environment where your questions are answered immediately and where you interact with your peers. There are also veteran’s support services and organizations at most traditional schools that can offer help when you feel overwhelmed, or are having difficulty with a course.

Another advantage of education on the campus is that, while you will certainly use a computer in your classes and for homework, you will not be stopped cold if there is a computer glitch. Other computers are available and there are people to assist you if you have trouble with the technology. Although you are not a traditional student, you will still benefit from the college environment. On campus, you have access to athletics, you can go to the gym to work out with friend, you can have a cup of coffee at the student center and you can attend lectures and entertainment events. These are part of the “normal” college life, and make up many good memories later. Plus, those work-out friends, or the people across the table from you in the student center, are valuable networking assets.

You have a choice to make about where you will spend your veteran educational benefits, and there is no “right” answer about which type of education is best. The question is which is best in your case. There are advantages to taking on-campus classes for veterans like you.

Related Resource: Are there Advantages to Veterans for Taking Classes Online?