By Debra Wales
Education Coordinator, American Military University
If you are like many senior NCO’s, just the thought of going back to school can be overwhelming. You decided a decade or more ago, after high school, that you were done with the classroom. You volunteered for the Army, to serve you country and you never wanted to look at a book again. If you ever had any of these feelings, you’re not alone. Many of your fellow soldiers, sailors and Marines have these same thoughts and struggle with the idea of going back to school.
In addition to you changing and getting a bit older since those high school days, the Army and other services have changed too. One of the big areas of change is a strong push for soldiers to have their degree. In most career fields in today’s Army it is almost impossible to get promoted without some college education. Not only does your civilian education provide promotion points you can’t get any other way, but it allows you to be closer to completing your degree and to ready yourself for life after the Army.
Here is the good news: You’re not that same young man or woman that hated class all those years ago. You have been active and involved in hands-on training that has changed you, pushed you and most important educated you. The book knowledge and hands-on ability you have now is far greater than when you were in high school. Your attention to detail, your focus and your ability to follow through have all improved since you were last in class. Also, your time management skills have improved along with the ability to see an issue, be able to address it and resolve it is something you do every day in your Army career. These are all skills that will carry over for you into the classroom and will assist you in earning your degree.
More good news: College can be affordable and convenient. You can use TA, your GI Bill or even a PELL Grant to pay for classes. You will also receive MOS credit towards your degree, so you are not starting from scratch. For example an E-7 11B could have over 40 semester hours of credit towards a bachelor’s degree based on their military experience. Some colleges are more accepting of MOS credits and start dates. Another positive, with options like online education you don’t have to drive to class, it’s right at your computer. As the Army changes and begins to focus more on civilian education as a part of your career progression, don’t be left behind, be ready and know that you can do well in college.
Visit JST system, formally AARTS, to see your military MOS credit
About the Author:
Debra joined the AMU Military Outreach Team in November of 2012 as the Education Coordinator serving Ft. Benning, Georgia. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Education & Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential from California State University. Prior to coming to AMU, Debra was an Army ACES Guidance Counselor. With over 20 years’ experience in the education and counseling fields, she feels working with soldiers is the most important counseling job she has had. She also has two sons serving, one in the Navy and one in the Army, which helps keep her up to date with soldiers and their needs as they work on completing their degree. Debra volunteers with the Army Wounded Warrior program and Conus Replacement Center (CRC) at Ft. Benning.