Monday, November 4, 2013

Military Monday: Careers for Military Spouses - Education

PART 3 OF A 3 PART SERIES

One of the many problems for military spouses attempting to embark on a new career path is the difficulty in obtaining a degree or diploma in their preferred field. Once again, we move. And our husbands go away a lot. And we often have young children at home and no family in the same time zone, let alone the same town. The application deadlines generally fall before posting messages come out, so even when you do apply, there's no guarantee you'll be able to follow through. And education is expensive! How do you afford four or more years of courses when you are barely making ends meet now?

So...is there any hope for a military spouse looking to get a new start in the job market?


In a word...YES! Although no one can guarantee it will be easy (it won't), there are many avenues you can pursue, and many military spouses have successfully completed the necessary education in spite of the challenges. The big question is how?

Firstly, all Canadian Military Family Resource Centres have an Education and Training component with Resource Libraries and links to help you investigate the possibilities. Whether it be for adult high school, college, university, or other courses, they are there to help you succeed. Start your journey by paying them a visit.

Not in Canada? Although I'm no expert on the American/British/Australian/other systems, similar programs exist to help you as well. Military.com has a tab dedicated to education for American spouses(as well as many other sites), and for British MoD spouses I believe the HIVE system has resources to help you.

When narrowing down to a specific course of study, a military spouse has to consider several key factors:

1. Does the educational institution have a distance learning possibility for your course? Some universities operate almost entirely online. Abathasca University is one example that has a great track record and is very portable. Other universities suggested by my readers included U of Manitoba, and Mount Saint Vincent University.

2. Is financial assistance available? Some universities offer special scholarships for adult learners, there are also tax breaks for those enrolled in secondary education. A low interest loan may be the best bet. Or, have you considered doing your degree on one of the military training plans, like ROTP? (I got my physiotherapy degree this way) Talk to your local MFRC or the finance/tuition assistance section of your university for more info.

3. Childcare? How can I study with the kids at home? Nothing like having a sick toddler and a twenty page paper due the next day. All I can say to this one is that there is always a way. Not necessarily an easy or perfect way, but a way. Talk to your spouse, friends, MFRC, university, family members...and figure it out. Plan around naptimes and bedtimes. And plan to keep long hours and late nights.

4. What happens if...? Expect problems. Completing a new degree or diploma will take time, energy and money. You will have questions and no idea how to get the answers. You'll have sick kids and no child care, long assignments and no time. You'll get an unexpected posting message. Your spouse will be deployed. Try to plan ahead for possible snags so that when they happen you'll be prepared. In the end it will be worth it!

When it comes to your education...there is always a way.

Have an spousal education story or an education solution you'd like to share? Know something I don't? (Very likely :) )Please comment below, or talk to me on facebook here. You may just help another spouse in the same situation!

Thanks and have a great week!

Brenda

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