Here's how military spouses can finish their education while on the move. - Task & Purpose

There are a million ways that military life can hold you back from a meaningful career while your spouse is active duty. PCS orders to rural locations sometimes mean there are no job opportunities in your field. And transferring certifications from one state to another can result in resume gaps. Meanwhile, some military spouses find they have to cut back on working hours during deployment to take care of children, or they end up as the stay-at-home parent because of the service member’s unpredictable schedule.

Many military spouses find that education is what holds them back. It’s hard to afford college classes on an junior military member's salary, and fitting classes into the unpredictability of military life can feel like a risky gamble.

Whatever the reason, you’ve probably gone over the scenarios and the excuses again and again. It’s frustrating, but what can you do? It often feels like there simply aren’t any clear career paths and advancement options for a military spouse while their service member is active duty.

But we’re here to tell you that even though it’s challenging, all those obstacles can be overcome. It might not be what you expected, but if you’re willing to be creative and work hard, you can find a way around these challenges. Thousands of military spouses have managed to pursue education, find meaningful employment, and grow in their careers. And they didn’t have to wait until their service member retired to start. 

Milspouse education obstacles and how to overcome them

I don’t have time to go to college right now: Yes, military life will keep you on your toes, and it seems like there is always too much on your plate. But if you don’t carve out time for a degree now, you’ll be stuck in this rat race of minimum wage job searching after every PCS move. The good news is that a college degree is becoming more flexible than ever before. Now you can choose to take online classes that fit into your day (or night). By chipping away at just one class at a time, you can earn a degree in a few years that will set you up for success in the future and open many more career opportunities to you.

Military life is too unpredictable: We get it: when you’re married to the military, you don’t even know when your service member will be home for dinner, much less where you’ll be living next year! Add in deployments, TDYs, plus a crazy training schedule, and it feels like there’s never going to be time that you can steadily dedicate to taking classes. And don’t even get me started on everything you have to juggle if you’re pregnant or raising young children.

Fortunately, colleges know that modern people can’t put their lives on hold to pursue a degree. Many programs are flexible, allowing you to take a break for a deployment, a PCS move, or a birth. I had two babies while working on my master’s degree, and took a semester off each time for the newborn stage. It took a little longer, but it was worth it. Purdue Global is one example of an online college that lets military spouses take a 12 month leave of absence to accommodate for life changes. So you don’t need to lose any progress in your degree when military life gets in the way.

I can’t afford a degree: Yessss, we hear you on this one. If you put your education on hold to marry your service member, or you are unemployed because of a recent PCS move, then paying for a college degree seems like the very last thing you need right now. You’re probably still paying off other debts! But you need to focus on the big picture: if getting a degree now means that you will have a higher paying job for the rest of your working life, then it is absolutely worth it. Yes, there are some scholarships and programs that help military spouses, but a lot of them have restrictions based on the service member’s rank, or they can only be used for a professional certificate. If you’re seeking a college degree, you’ll get the best deal from an online college that offers a military discount for spouses. For example, Purdue Global offers a 10% tuition reduction for military spouses! Suddenly that degree seems a lot closer.

No matter what obstacles are standing in your way, you can take steps today towards higher education and your college degree. Check out the offerings for military spouses at Purdue Global to find a degree program that is affordable and fits your schedule. 

This article was sponsored by Purdue Global