6 Considerations Before Choosing an On-Campus or Online School

Military Transition

If you are thinking about going to school and are waffling as far as the type of venue you should choose – online or on-campus – here are six considerations that could affect your choice.

Advantages of Online Schools

  1. Flexibility

The number one reason many veterans choose to go to school online is because of the flexibility of the coursework. And while all online coursework provides more flexibility than having to commute to classes on campus, some coursework is more flexible than others.

In the world of online education, there are two basic types of course presentations: synchronous and asynchronous. With the later, you can connect at anytime from anywhere (as long as you have internet connectivity) and do your coursework and complete exams as time permits. Classes are posted online and can be downloaded or streamed and can be supplemented with message boards, forums, and discussions groups.  Because asynchronous courses are self-paced, there isn’t a fixed completion date.

With synchronous, you can still connect from anywhere, but you must be online when the class is being presented, which can limit your flexibility a bit. Presentations are in real-time virtual classrooms and the class interacts through shared whiteboards and chat rooms. Exams are scheduled and must be completed according to a schedule much the same as it is going to school on campus.

  1. Class scheduling

Because asynchronous online courses are self-paced, students can complete their coursework required for graduation quicker than with either synchronous or traditional on-campus classes.

  1. Learning style

Some students are better suited for one type of venue verses another. If you are the type of person that is determined, dedicated, focused, and a self-starter, you most likely would do well in an online learning environment. Because most veterans and military members possess these traits, online learning is often a great choice for them.

 Advantages to on-campus schools

  1. Networking

Learning online can be a lonely venue for many veterans. Therefore, for those that thrive on having human contact – especially with other veterans – on campus may be the better choice. Most schools that have veteran support groups, such as Student Veterans of America (SVA). These are places where veterans can get together and either study together or just be there to support each other.

And there is a lot to be said about talking and learning from other students on campus who do not have military experience. They can provide a different point of view on a topic. Veterans tend to have a sterile view that is affected by their military service. The non-military view input can provide for some interesting learning interactions. Likewise, you can offer them your valuable viewpoint as a veteran.

On campus networking can even lead to job offers. SVA recently launched a collaboration with 12 companies that have pledged to engage with, mentor, and ultimately hire veteran students that are part of an on campus SVA chapter after they graduate.

  1. Better professional development

For students not knowing their end goal, taking resident classes on campus can be the better choice. It provides better face-to-face contact with more people that can provide better input when considering working in a particular industry. As friendships develop, those students and professors could also be used as excellent references when applying for jobs.

shared advantages of online and on-campus schools

  1. Post 9/11 GI Bill Housing Allowance

One difference many veterans are not aware of is the difference in the amount of monthly housing allowance (MHA) based on whether they go to school online or on campus. Online-only students get approximately half of what on-campus students receive or $825 per month for the current school year. Yet the only real expense difference is commuting costs.

However online students can get the full MHA by taking just one class per semester or quarter at a local campus. The only requirement is that class must count toward their degree plan.

Just how much of a difference does that make in dollars? Take Arizona State University for example. According to the GI Bill Comparison Tool, the full MHA for that school is $15,039 for two semesters. The online-only amount for that same time period is $7,425.

With veterans usually having a family to support, and working either part-time or full-time, they can use the additional money. So taking that one class on campus per semester makes sense financially if you’re using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Before choosing a learning venue, take these six considerations into account to help determine which school venue is right for you.

Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.