How active-duty servicemembers can keep their studies on track
It’s a common scenario: Active-duty servicemembers enroll in school, but during their studies, they receive orders to report for military exercises in another state or are deployed overseas. What can they do to stay on track with their education? Here are three tips from the University of Phoenix Military Division staff:
Communicate with your advisors.
“The best way to limit issues is to communicate the minute you find out,” says Sandra Rodriguez, senior director of enrollment.
Jessica Young, director of student services, suggests talking with your Military Division Graduation Team — particularly your enrollment advisor, who’s required to have military experience. He or she understands the military lifestyle and can discuss the scenarios that may impact your education, as well as your options.
“If we're able to ask the right questions and have the right conversations, advisors can build schedules accordingly,” Young says. “Sometimes you don’t know your orders [in advance], so we make the best of that situation.”
What if you’re off to basic training (boot camp)? “It wouldn’t be in a servicemember’s best interest to enroll as a new student if he or she [was] aware of being deployed in the next couple of months,” Young explains.
Alert your instructors.
Notify your instructor at the start of each class that you’re on active duty in the military, and ask what you can do together to ensure that assignments and tests are completed on time.
“Our Military Division does what it can, but instructors aren’t required to make adjustments,” says Angela Fuentes, finance advisor, “which is why it’s important for military students to work ahead in a class as they can.”
Continue your education.
If you do receive orders, you can usually put your studies on hold, then pick up where you left off. If deployed, you may still attend class once you get Internet access — and thankfully, online distance learning is becoming more common for military personnel.
Rodriguez says that if you can’t continue a class, it’s crucial that you get your orders on record with the Military Division so it can take action on your behalf, such as arranging for extensions or readmission at a later date.
Finance advisors will also step in to help you manage grants, loans and other benefits. “We do our best to work with military members regarding their finance obligations with the University when they’re called on orders,” Fuentes says. “As long as orders are sent to the University, it’s a simple process.”