Explore the opportunity of a college degree

| February 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Army Education Center at Schofield Barracks has resources to help Soldiers who are pursuing a higher education. It is located on the second floor of the Sgt. Yano building, above the Sgt. Yano Library. (Bottom photo has been altered.) (Left and bottom) Photos by Kristen Wong, Oahu Publications
(top two) Courtesy photos

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Many Soldiers join the Army with the intent of obtaining a college degree, climbing the promotion ladder and making a relatively effortless transition to civilian life.

But active duty soldiering is a demanding full-time job that can make attending school a less-than-straightforward journey.

The growing availability of online education has helped part-time and nontraditional students reach their goals, but figuring out when, where and how to start can be overwhelming.

The counselors and education specialists at the Army Education Center, here, can help you prepare and develop a plan.

Extensive resources
The center offers free guidance sessions, tuition assistance information, basic skills classes, learning resources, testing services, classroom reservations, a computer lab, on-site courses from five accredited colleges and more.

“We meet Soldiers at all stages of their career, from the young 18 year olds who may not think they want to go to school to those who are working on their master’s degrees,” said Chrissy Morris, education services officer at the Education Center.

Wherever they are in their career, it’s almost always beneficial to have a college degree, added Tonya Raukhorst, an education services specialist at the Education Center.

“Say you have two Soldiers with the same level of experience, the same (military occupational specialty) and one of them has a college degree and one of them doesn’t,” she said. “The one with the degree has an edge.”

The degree doesn’t have to be a direct interpretation of their military work either, she said, explaining that she has counseled Soldiers who assume they should pursue a degree in law enforcement because that field appears to be most directly related to the military skills they’ve amassed.

“A lot of the infantrymen, what they’re actually getting a lot of, the skill they’re receiving the most training in, is leadership,” she said. “(It’s) basic leadership, advanced leadership, so they could take management classes, maybe go to business school. We can help guide Soldiers into a field that they might not have thought they had the skills for, but they actually do.

The Army Education Center at Schofield Barracks has resources to help Soldiers who are pursuing a higher education. It is located on the second floor of the Sgt. Yano building, above the Sgt. Yano Library. (Photo by Kristen Wong, Oahu Publications)

“If law enforcement is what they have their heart set on, then OK. We will help them pursue that path. But that isn’t the only path available to them.”

Once they have begun the education journey, the next challenge is sticking with it.

Because they must also balance military duties, exercises, extra responsibilities and deployments, it’s not uncommon for it to take Soldiers eight years or more to graduate, Raukhorst said. But neither is it impossible to graduate on time.

Soldiering credit
Some colleges accept certain types of military training as college credits, which can help cut down the amount of classroom time, she added.

Soldiers with a college education also receive promotion points, another longer term benefit of pursuing a higher education.

In the end, a college degree is part of being prepared for an eventual transition to civilian life. While some Soldiers may retire after a full career in the Army, many will leave before that and should be equipped to find work in the civilian world.

The Army’s Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program is a mandatory program for Soldiers who have served 180 days of continuous active duty service. It works closely with the Education Center to help Soldiers reach career readiness status.

One of the SFL-TAP counselors has a physical office at the Education Center and serves as a bridge between the two programs as they help to prepare Soldiers by guiding them through the process of obtaining a college degree.

SFL-TAP’s main message is that Soldiers should begin preparing for their transition sooner rather than later. This is also true for getting a higher education, which gives Soldiers an edge in their career goals.

Education Fair
The Schofield Barracks Education Center is sponsoring its quarterly Education Fair, hosted by Chaminade University, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the Education Center lobby on the second floor of the Sgt. Yano Hall building. Those interested in learning about higher education opportunities are welcome to attend.
Representatives from the following institutions will be there:

On Post Colleges
•Central Michigan University
•Central Texas College
•Chaminade University
•Hawaii Pacific University
•Wayland Baptist University
Visiting Schools
•Argosy University
•American Military University
•Coastline Community College
•Columbia College
•Columbia Southern
•Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
•Excelsior College
•Hawaii Medical College
•University of Hawaii and community colleges
•University of Maryland University College
•University of Oklahoma

Education Center
The Schofield Barracks Education Center is located on the second floor of Sgt. Yano Hall, Bldg. 560, above the Sgt. Yano Library. It is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, except on authorized holidays. Call 655-0800 or visit goarmyed.com.

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