3 Popular Questions Online Military Students Are Asking Instructors
In 2009, my life changed when I heard a loud noise and watched my computer screen turn to black.
I was teaching an online intro to public speaking class and was communicating by video chat with an online military student who was deployed. Before the college student completed his first sentence, our line of communication was dropped and the screen turned to black.
No more than 48 hours later, I heard from the student. He explained the reason for our lost connection: A bomb attack had affected all outside communication from where he was stationed.
In the email, he elaborated and asked, “Will I still be able to submit my assignment?” It was a few days after the due date.
I immediately replied to his email and stated, “Of course.”
The student was thrilled with my quick response and understanding of the situation. As an adjunct instructor at Grantham University, which has proudly served the educational needs of military members and their families for more than 60 years, we are trained to be very understanding if and when an event like this takes place involving a deployed military student. We ended up agreeing on a time when he could submit the assignment that worked with his military schedule and was within the confines of university policy.
This situation led me to think of other military students who pursue online college degrees.
I decided to send an email to current and former online students of mine, posing the question, “What are some questions you wish you would have asked as an online military student?”
Listed below are three common questions, with proposed solutions to accompany each of them:
Question 1: I am nervous to ask instructors for special exceptions or extended due dates because of their teaching style. Some instructors feel that there should be no exceptions to due dates or policies because you signed up for the class and that's how it should be. What do you suggest?
Solution: Make sure you make every attempt to communicate with the instructor as early as possible. In the past, I've sent out numerous emails to students regarding a concern for lack of participation and assignment submissions. In these instances, responses often come back during the last two weeks of class, and students may ask for an extension because of work or a military commitment. An extension was not always given to students who waited too long to communicate with the instructor.
I can understand the trepidation from this question since many schools have varying policies. Check out the school you plan to attend first. See if it is military-friendly and contains military-friendly policies in their university catalog.
For example, Grantham University, was recently ranked a top performing school in the 2013 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities for the sixth consecutive year. GU instructors have flexible policies that they can work within to give the students the time they need for extenuating circumstances.
Question 2: If I have a disability, will I get more time on tests and to finish assignments?
Solution: Every online college accommodates students with disabilities differently, but they must all be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, specifically Title II) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Both acts prohibit discrimination based on a learning disability.
If you would like to receive accommodations for a disability, contact the disabilities office at your college or university. Experienced staff will assist you in requesting accommodations.
Question 3: I haven't been to school in so long. How will I know I'll succeed in an online setting?
Solution: It's comforting for many online students, particularly those who haven't taken courses in a while, to know that dedicated academic support teams exist within reputable online colleges. At Grantham University, for instance, students don't have to worry about completing their academic journey alone. Admissions representatives, student advisors and course instructors frequently interact with students and provide assistance along the way.
I realize as an online military student, you may have more questions that you would like answered. Feel free to submit your questions in the comments section below. We’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.
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About the author: Delora Peters is an adjunct instructor for Grantham University. She is passionate about equipping non-traditional and first-generation students with the necessary tools to succeed in college and beyond. Delora received her bachelor’s degree in broadcasting communication and her master’s degree in corporate communication from Austin Peay State University.