If you’re assigned to a tour of duty on a Navy ship or submarine you may spend several weeks at sea before you return home. Because you’re away from land for long stretches it might seem near impossible to complete your college degree while you serve in the Navy. However, by enrolling in distance learning or correspondence courses you can attend college, completing undergraduate and graduate degrees, while at sea.
You can take distance learning courses, also referred to as online courses, while serving on some Navy ships. Tools you’ll need are a computer, Internet access and a login and password to access accredited online college systems (e.g. e-library, message boards). On the other hand, bandwidth restrictions and limited signal transmissions generally prevent military personnel from accessing the Internet long enough to take online distance learning courses while serving on a Navy submarine.
For this reason self-study college correspondence courses may be a good choice for you while you’re assigned to a submarine. Additionally, the submarine you’re assigned to might also have military courses you can take to receive college credits for. Your options to continue your education may be broader than you think. Keep in mind that regardless of where you’re stationed you may be able to take correspondence courses through accredited colleges and universities, the Naval Correspondence Course Center, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces or the Naval War College.
Because you could go 30, 40 or even 60 days without seeing land while you’re completing ship or submarine duty, exercise self-discipline as you complete college courses. For example, you can set a certain time of day when you’ll sit down and read college textbooks, study for exams and take tests. Some students find distance education courses to be more rigorous and challenging than classroom courses, so practice discipline, time management, self-motivation and project management skills as you complete the courses. Schedule relaxation time as well; after all, it’s not uncommon for military personnel to serve long work hours while assigned to a ship, and especially on a submarine.
Depending on the accredited college you take one or more distance learning or correspondence courses from as a new student you may receive:
If the school you take distance learning or correspondence courses from doesn’t include textbooks with your tuition, order your required college textbooks before you head out to sea as mail is generally picked up at the next port which could cause you to get your textbooks late. To save money, consider ordering the books from an online discount retailer. Before you order books from college or university bookstores check with your Navy human resources manager to see if you qualify for a textbook stipend through programs like the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
After you complete your offshore Navy assignment, check with enrollment advisors at colleges and universities you want to take distance learning or classroom courses from about transferring credits you earned from the distance learning or correspondence courses to the schools. Also find out if you qualify to receive college credits based on your military working experience. Finally, use military tuition assistance programs like the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill to pay for your college education.