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    Soldiers, educators offer tips on taking class while deployed

    Soldiers, educators offer tips on taking class while deployed

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Justin A. Naylor | Sgt. Marina Medford, a lab technician with 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Advise and...... read more read more

    CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - College education continues to play a larger role in career placement and progression within the military.

    Despite being deployed, solders of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Advise and Assist), 1st Cavalry Division, soldiers are staying competitive in their careers by continuing their college education.

    Sgt. 1st Class James Dawson, a current college student, and Gordon Nero, the director of education service support on Camp Buehring, Kuwait, have a few tips for taking classes successfully while deployed.

    First, do some research using the website, explained Nero, a 24 year Army veteran. This website allows soldiers to find information about various colleges, which have been vetted to ensure they comply with Army standards.

    Soldiers can also use it to research different degree plans and pick one that suits their interests, explained Nero. “The degree plan is kind of a map of where you want to go.”

    After finding a college and degree plan that suit the soldiers’ needs, Nero advised, if possible, that soldiers talk with education counselors at an education center on their base. The education counselors can give them more in-depth information about the process of enrolling in classes and completing them online.

    Even if soldiers don’t have access to an education center while deployed, everything can be done virtually through the GoArmyEd.Com website, he said.

    Soldiers, unlike the majority of their civilian college counterparts, can take classes and complete a degree at no cost.

    While on active duty, soldiers qualify for $4,500 a year of tuition assistance, at a rate of $250 per semester hour, explained Nero.

    To put these funds toward their education, soldiers need to fill out a Statement of Understanding for Use with Army Tuition Assistance, which must also be signed by their company commander, he stated. Education councilors can help soldiers submit this paperwork to the Army, ensuring the monetary requirements for taking classes are met.

    With a college and degree plan in mind, and tuition assistance taken care of, Nero said it’s as easy as “just clicking” to get enrolled in classes online through

    While the process of signing up for classes online might seem easy, Nero said soldiers should remember that taking classes is a significant commitment, and they shouldn’t sign up for more than they can handle.

    “Take one class until you know…your schedule,” he added. “It’s OK to take one class at a time when your schedule permits.”

    “Pick a class that’s fun for your first class, so you can get excited about learning again,” said Nero. “It’s a chance to dust off some of those cobwebs.”

    Once enrolled, if soldiers have an issue completing classes due to mission requirements, Nero advised them to try speaking with an education councilor.

    “If you have any problems with a class, email, call or visit an education center,” he said. “We’re going to help them fix the situation.”

    Nero said that soldiers that find they need an extension for turn-ins of homework and tests, due to operational factors, should speak with their class instructors, who are often willing to push back deadlines when necessary.

    For deployed soldiers, the thought of taking a class in addition to fulfilling mission requirements might seem overwhelming, but online classes can make it fairly simple.

    “Because of the number of deployments I’ve been on—this is my fifth—online classes have been a very big help,” said Dawson, a Houston native and the equal opportunity advisor for 2/1 CAV (AAB).

    Find out what kind of schedule you are going to have, how much your unit is going to be moving while deployed, and how much time the class is going to take up, and then plan your classes around those factors, explained Dawson.

    For deployed soldiers, finding time to study for class can be difficult, but it can make all the difference in how well a soldier does.

    “Make time for studying after duty hours,” explained Dawson. “Try to make a little time for studying everyday.”

    “When it comes to studying, I make sure to have as little distraction as possible,” he said. It might help some soldiers to turn off radios and televisions, and leave crowded facilities for quieter ones.

    When it comes time to take a test, soldiers should try to find a quiet place to work, he explained. “Find a nice, non-distracting environment.”

    For soldiers that don’t have offices in which to work, Dawson advised using internet cafes and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities during times of the day that are not overly busy or noisy.

    Despite the difficulties, deployments can present soldiers with a good opportunity to get ahead, explained Dawson. “Soldiers shouldn’t let a deployment stop them from getting an education.”

    Dawson said when soldiers get home from deployment and begin catching up on all they’ve missed, education can fall by the wayside. This makes it all the more important to get as much done as possible while deployed.

    Although it may not be easy, having an education can bring big rewards for soldiers.

    “It’s very important to have an education to be a marketable and competitive soldier in the U.S. Army and to be competitive in the civilian world,” said Dawson. “Without education, you have very little chance of getting those good jobs out there.”

    “The education piece could very well be the deciding factor on whether you’re picked up over your peers for a promotion,” he said. “Education is the key to success.”



    Date Taken: 11.02.2011
    Date Posted: 11.02.2011 11:06
    Story ID: 79425
    Location: CAMP BUEHRING, KW 

    Web Views: 2,810
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