Saluting More Students: Opening Education to Our Troops
News With the internet opening opportunity to more and more students, our service men and women have never had a better platform for higher learning. Often enough, knowing where and how to look is half the battle.
Dr. Susan C. Aldridge, the senior vice president of Drexel University’s Online Learning, offers up personal insight into the ways our troops and veterans find the necessary foothold for a fulfilling civilian life.
What was your experience teaching military members and veterans at Holloman Air Force Base?
My graduate management course included a flight surgeon, nurse officers, veterans serving in corporate executive positions and stealth bomber pilots. The students were extremely intelligent, focused and dedicated. I was impressed by each of them and the remarkable agility with which they were balancing their careers, family responsibilities and education. They brought rich experience to the courses and wanted to apply the knowledge in their daily work. It was an honor to serve as their professor.
"Tuition benefits for veterans are complex. It’s also challenging to translate military education into academic course equivalencies."
Why is it especially important that military members and veterans pursue higher education degrees?
An educated military serves our country better because it cultivates the strategic thought leadership that is so necessary for protecting it in this complex, technology-enhanced world. Veterans need to find fulfilling career opportunities, and without an education from a reputable university, it’s difficult for service members to transition from the military and into civilian jobs.
How do the academic needs of a military member or veteran differ from those of an American civilian?
Tuition benefits for veterans are complex. It’s also challenging to translate military education into academic course equivalencies. Veteran students require advisors who are experienced in both, which is why it is always best to hire veterans who know the ropes to fill those counseling roles. Veterans also need both online and on-campus support systems to assist them as they transition to academic life. And online programs are particularly advantageous, in that they allow these students to obtain the credentials they need for civilian career advancement, at their own pace and from any location.
How has your experience as a professor and administrator shaped your passion for military education?
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to visit more than 100 military base education centers in over 20 countries. And the service members and veterans I have taught have always been among my most dedicated and hardworking students. It has been a distinct honor in my career to support these men and women, as well as their family members.