By Dan Allen, MSgt (Ret), USAF
Southeast Military Outreach Education Coordinator at American Military University
While serving on active duty in the United States Air Force, I am now ashamed to say that I waited over 13 years to finally work up the nerve to attend my first college class. In my head, I easily justified why I couldn’t take classes as my life was just too busy with family, work, and social commitments. Fortunately for me I was blessed to have a supervisor who cared enough about my future, and he pulled me away from my duties and took me to the Base Education Office to speak with a counselor on getting started. The counselor asked, “Why haven’t you pursued school in the past?” Although I wanted to share excuses, the plain and simple truth was my reply “I’m afraid to fail.”
The biggest apprehension I see for prospective students to begin their off duty education is the lack of self-confidence in their ability to succeed in a college classroom. Many schools provide an introductory course to insure you are a good fit to become a successful college student whether it be online or in a classroom. As I now explain to those cautious prospective students, it’s like joining any branch of the military where they don’t immediately send you to your specialized training to learn your job skill, but you must first transition from the being a civilian to a military member at Basic Training and “learning the ropes.”
At American Military University, we provide a course designed for all new undergraduate students in a degree program called “COLL100 – Foundations of Online Learning.” This course is designed to provide a solid foundation for undergraduate study in the online environment. Students will be introduced to learning theory, the tools available in the online classroom and campus, and online research. Identification of personal learning style allows students to improve their study/learning techniques and prepares them to succeed in college level courses. Students will be introduced to formatting and citation styles.
This course is the first step to make you a successful online learner. It transitions new students from their previous educational habits to a new routine. It is a course where you will become familiar with online tools to assist you in your journey and at the end of eight weeks you will have gained an appreciation for your own capabilities. Do not delay the pursuit of a college degree as once you find success in your first class, your own self-confidence will soar and before you realize it you will be well on your way to meeting your educational goals. So with that said, take a jump into the pool of education as I can assure you the water is just fine!
I am happy to share that I set a personal goal to complete my Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Leadership prior to retiring from the Air Force and not only did I accomplish that but I was honored to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a final overall grade point average of 3.80. Don’t get me wrong as It took plenty of self-discipline on my behalf plus a supportive spouse but as I look back my lone regret was not starting my off duty education sooner.
About the Author
Dan retired after 24 years in the Air Force, serving as an Inventory Management Specialist, Military Training Manager, and his final 15 years assigned to Air Force Recruiting.
Dan earned his Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership from Mountain State University and is presently pursuing a Master of Science in Sports Management from American Military University. Born and raised in Rochester, NY, Dan now resides in Valdosta, Georgia.