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Spouse Series: Feeling the College Fear and Doing it Anyway

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Davis is working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology. She is nearly at the halfway point of reaching her goal, as she is two classes short of earning her associate degree.

 

Ultimately, Davis wants to work with children.

 

“I know that I eventually want a career where I can help them in some way, possibly as a counselor,” Davis says.

 

How does she do it all?

“Coffee. I drink lots of coffee. It’s my stress reliever,” she says. Davis may give coffee ample credit for keeping her awake and stress-free, but she is also academically motivated to succeed.

 

“I really want to go to school and finish my degree because then I know I will be able to find a steady job with better pay,” Davis says. “Finding the time to do it all, however, is obviously a big challenge. Thankfully, all my jobs are flexible and allow me to work around my classes. That is a big help,” she says.

 

It also helps that many colleges today offer classes in various time and delivery formats in an effort to accommodate the busy lives of students.  It is exactly that kind of scheduling flexibility that has helped Davis in her quest for higher education.

 

“I take hybrid classes, which allow me to go on different days. I also take online and weekend classes, too, when my husband is around to watch the kids,” Davis says. It’s a full schedule, and Davis must take advantage of any free time she finds. “I study whenever I can. Sometimes, I’m up until two or three in morning studying when I have to wake up by five to get the family moving for the day,” she says.

 

Davis appreciates how her demanding schedule affects those around her, too. She seems to have found the secret to successfully balancing everyone’s needs. “It can be tough on everyone in the family at times. My kids, however, come first. Sometimes,

I have to study while I’m sitting on the sidelines of their games,” she says, adding that she also spends a lot time on the road driving from one commitment to the other.

 

Davis, who is also an Air Force brat, graduated from high school in 1994. In March 2006, she married her soldier. They have PCS’ed three times so far and have a fourth move to Okinawa on the horizon in August 2015.

 

Even though she’s accustomed to change, making the initial decision to go to college was scary for her. “Sometimes I felt a little anxious about doing it. I didn’t think I would be as smart as other people there. I was worried about fitting in classes with my family’s schedules,” she says.

 

Davis put those concerns aside and moved forward anyway. She encourages other spouses who may be thinking of going to college to do the same.

 

“If you want to go to college, you can. There are ways around the obstacles,” she says.

 

One obstacle for many may be the ever-rising cost of higher education.

 

“Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). My spouse is an E7 and I didn’t think I would get anything. I was wrong,” Davis says. “Check with your school, too. I received a UMUC military spouse scholarship that helped out a lot.”

 

You can complete the FAFSA at https://fafsa.ed.gov. There you will also find a FAFSA4caster you can complete easily online to give you an idea of potential aid before you actually complete the all-important and time-intensive FAFSA form itself.

 

The SECO Scholarship Finder through Military OneSource can also help you identify other potential funding options. Would-be students should also pay a visit to the nearest military education center for more information about local and online program possibilities and financial assistance, including potential GI Bill benefit transferability.

 

Davis also believes that going to college will be easier if you have the support of those around you.

 

“Talk to your spouse and tell them what you want to achieve,” she says. “Get them on board with your plan and let them help you through it all.”

 

Janet Farley is a job search and workplace issues expert and the author of “The Military Spouse’s Guide to Employment: Smart Job Choices for Mobile Lifestyles” (Impact Pubs, 2013) and “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job” (Jist, Inc. 2013).

 

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