Kimvy Calpito, Air Force spouse
Major: Ph.D. in International Education and Entrepreneurship
It can be difficult for us military spouses to complete college degrees for a variety of reasons, such as PCSs, raising a family, or finances. However, it is very possible with the right mindset! As an Air Force wife and doctoral student, l wanted to share my experiences and some tips with you.
Research, Research, Research
There are many schools out there. Find the one best for you. I made sure to find a university that offered a program that I was interested in. Accreditation, affordability, and location are also important. Afterwards, I narrowed it down to the school that offered online options just in case we had to relocate in the near future.
Tuition = Money
Tuition fees add up, but there are many resources out there to help reduce costs (ie: scholarships, grants, loans). Some schools even offer tuition payment plans. In combination with my student loans, I applied for different scholarships on scholarship.com, Fastweb, in my local community, and on base. Most scholarships just require an essay to apply. (I would exchange writing an essay for free money any day!) I also never thought a scholarship was too low because the amounts added up. As for my loans, it made me even more motivated to find a job after graduation to pay them off!
Put In Effort
Professors grade on quality of work. While life occasionally got in the way, I rarely made it an excuse and always put my education as a top priority. Learning to be organized and utilizing time management skills let me balance my academic, professional, and personal life.
Great Things Take Time
Be patient. It takes years to finish a degree, but it is absolutely worth it in the end. In the meantime, celebrate the small accomplishments to keep you going. I updated my degree plan every semester and got excited every time I crossed out another completed course.
Here is some food for thought: According to The Hamilton Project, a public-policy group at the Brookings Institution in Washington, “over a lifetime, the average college graduate earns roughly $570,000 more than the average person with a high school diploma only”. Imagine what you could do with that extra money! Therefore, treat your education as an investment. I promise you that more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
The Hamilton Project article: http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2011/06/25-education-greenstone-looney