- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Spouse Series: No More Excuses

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: The GEO Group

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It doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand that the pursuit of higher education can lead to bigger paychecks, expanded employment opportunities and elevated levels of self-actualization. Despite those promising outcomes, the same tired old excuses often get in the way of earning an advanced degree, acquiring a professional certification or even simply learning a new skill set for whatever reason tickles one’s fancy.

Let’s change that, shall we?

Excuse: It’s too expensive.
Reality: Yes, an academic degree, certification or select professional development can be costly. That’s not so much an excuse as a sad reality. Still, cost shouldn’t stop you.

There are many tuition-busting resources that may be available, such as in-state tuition for military spouses and employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement programs.

“Many colleges/universities also offer a discount for military members and spouses, making college more affordable,” says Rebecca Roth, a recently “retired” Army spouse.

There are also a number of federal programs, too, including:

Military-centric organizations such as the National Military Family Association ( also offer online laundry lists of other potential sources of funding.

If you’ve already spent a fortune and want to eliminate the debt, look into federal loan repayment plans ( or even public loan forgiveness plans (

Excuse: I don’t know where or how to begin.

Reality: You don’t have to know where or how to begin. Let the paid professionals help you, at no cost to you, of course. You can find them at the nearest education center, and they can introduce you to the resources that best fit your situation.

“Knowing which resources are available to you can help you prepare and plan for your next move and reach your goals as quickly as possible,” says Jennifer Oswalt, an Air Force spouse stationed in Germany.

Education counselors can also help you avoid making costly mistakes.

”It’s important to do your homework and make sure the program you are interested in is legitimate and will provide you with a degree or certificate that is worth something,” Oswalt says, adding that a national accreditation is a good indicator of a legitimate program.

Excuse: We’re PCSing soon. Why bother?

Reality: That line of thinking is just so 1980s. ”It’s important for military spouses to continue to better themselves and move their own education and careers forward regardless of where they may be stationed,” Oswalt advises.

PCS moves needn’t get in the way.

“It has become easier to go to college as a military spouse because of the online degrees that colleges are now offering,” Roth adds.

Roth powered through multiple PCS moves and other military life challenges to earn her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Bowie State University. She now works as a registered mental health counselor intern in behavioral health.

And finally…
Let’s not forget that growing academically and/or professionally is not only good for your career, but it’s good for your soul, too.

“The experience and the people that you meet in the process [of advancing your education] are amazing,” Roth says.

Don’t worry about making mistakes, either. Life can be flexible and new directions can materialize. That’s what happened to Fort Leavenworth-based Army spouse Jennifer Brewster.

“When I was a younger spouse and a mother on the move, it was infeasible to keep up to date with [the required certification] for my original professional field as a clinical chemist,” she says.

”Over the years, I took classes when possible and translated unlikely work and volunteer opportunities into relevant experiences,” Brewster continues. “Now I am excited and ready to return to graduate school to begin another profession, as a doctor of physical therapy to provide for my family as my husband prepares for retirement from the military.”

Janet Farley is a noted career transition expert and the author of several guidebooks including her newest titled Military Life 101: Basic Training for New Military Families (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2016).

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