Written by Michael Dakduk,
The original GI Bill changed the landscape of higher education, providing unprecedented access to veterans and opening the door to college for America’s middle-class. Only time will reveal the testament of the New GI Bill. But it seems, at least partly, that online education is becoming synonymous with military service members and veterans.
Recently, Businessweek published an article highlighting how online schools target soldiers and veterans. The top three universities for veteran enrollment, Kaplan, University of Phoenix, and the American Public University System, plaster advertisements on military friendly websites. Visit Military Times, GI Jobs, or one of the many veteran service organization’s websites and you will certainly find an online school advertisement. But does this really come as a surprise?
The New GI Bill brings in tens of thousands of tax payer dollars, and it seems that private online schools are doing a better job on the marketing front. This sounds like a failure from a public university system perspective. How many public schools are working to ensure their college campuses are veteran friendly and seek to welcome in veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Sure, some schools have made decent strides, but largely, public institutions are operating at a snails pace compared to online schools.
I am a bit unnerved to find new programs created, or better advertised, from traditional brick and mortar institutions. Many prestigious schools are creating schools of continuing studies, or programs masked under the auspice of degrees for working professionals. Georgetown, NYU, and even Harvard have programs like this. I wonder what the diploma actually reads once it is conferred: Graduate of “Enter Prestigious School’s Name” or graduate of “Enter Continuing Studies Online Program.” Don’t you think industry professionals are adept to the changes in these new, less regarded programs?
I concede that is may be easier for online schools to cater to veterans and appear to be more welcoming. Online universities and programs do not have to consider the needs of veterans from an on campus perspective. Administrators and faculty are predominately detached from face to face interaction, if not completely. That eliminates the need for programs and budgets focused on the needs of veterans. Ultimately, that is not conducive to the success of our returning service members.
Education is a powerful investment that cannot be underestimated. The truth remains, though, that higher education in America is still dominated by networks and institutions held in high regard, and rightfully so, given their in-college and post-graduation support. I hope these online schools and unique programs offer the adequate support during enrollment, through college, and post-graduation.
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