Institutions, Programs & Degrees

Institutions, Programs & Degrees2Once you have a clear idea of the career that’s best for you, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that many colleges and universities offer degree programs specially designed for students who must juggle career, family, military and community responsibilities.

Find out what kind of school is the best match for you and your career goals.

First, identify your priorities. Then, carefully research the characteristics of a range of schools. Finally, match the two. Here are some college characteristics you should consider.

  • What’s the right match? The kind of college you choose to attend should reflect your goals and your personality. Whether you choose a public, private, community, technical, trade or even an online college, make sure it’s the best match for you.
  • Big or small? Do you want to attend a big university with more majors of study and social activities, but also larger lecture classes? Or would you like fewer choices, but more personal attention and a better chance to stand out? You decide.
  • Home or away? Attending a local college versus boarding out of state – what’s better? It depends. For some, residence hall life is an important part of the college experience, but commuting from home is less expensive.
  • Which major works? Figuring out what you like doing most, and what you’re best at, can point to the careers you should consider – and what majors will help you reach your career goal.
  • Diversity? Think about the geographic, ethnic, racial and religious diversity of the students at a prospective institution in order to find a campus where you feel comfortable.

Search for institutions of higher learning.

Use the College Board’s College Matchmaker search engine to research two- and four-year schools, and find the institution that best meets your needs.

Make sure they’re accredited.

When you are deciding which college to attend, you should also ask three additional questions: “Is it accredited?,” “Who accredits it?” and “Who recognizes the accreditor?” Accreditation is very important, because it can affect your ability to transfer credits from one institution to another. It also may affect your eligibility to enroll in an accredited graduate program down the road.

The quickest and easiest way to check a college or university’s accreditation status is to search the Institutional Database provided by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Learn what they’re doing to be veteran-friendly.

Institutions of higher learning are taking great strides to recruit and retain service members and veterans. Following are some examples of their efforts on behalf of students like you:

  • Publishing concise information on transfer credits for military experience
  • Giving veterans a voice through special events and student veterans associations
  • Building a strong Web presence for information about veterans returning to or entering college
  • Establishing specific points of contact to support veterans’ transition to civilian and campus life
  • Expanding housing options to accomodate veterans of all ages and family situations

Consider adult-oriented degree programs.

Traditional programs are designed for students attending full-time. But many institutions are now offering alternative programs, such as following:

  • Accelerated Degrees. These are year-round programs with courses that meet once or twice a week or on weekends. They enable students to complete their degree requirements in a shorter period of time. Courses that meet twice a week often last for only six to eight weeks.
  • External Degrees. These programs require little or no on-campus class attendance. They often require you to complete one quarter of the degree through an independent study or correspondence course.
  • Weekend College. Some colleges offer regular courses in an intensive, weekend format. Students attend classes in a variety of locations on Saturdays and/or Sundays, and leave with reading, research and writing assignments to complete.
  • Distance Learning. Distance learning takes a wide variety of formats and makes use of different media, from print to DVDs to Web-based media. You can earn credits or a degree through distance-learning courses offered by nationally or regionally accredited institutions.

For more information on turning your military training and experience into college credit, review this Transfer Guide.