Partnership Creates Educational Opportunities For Troops
November 26, 2007
The current rate of deployments makes it extremely difficult for a Soldier to enroll in and complete their college education. Many times, they begin taking a course, only to deploy in the middle of the semester, thus having to drop out of their classes. A new program developed by the Army’s TRADOC and 10 educational institutions, is aimed at making that obstacle one that won’t deter a Soldier from obtaining a college education. This is beneficial, not only to the Soldier, who then has marketable education and job skills when he enters the civilian workforce, but for the Army as well, by providing them with better educated Troops.
On Tuesday, November 20th leaders from several higher education institutions and the Army’s TRADOC, came together at Fort Monroe, Virginia to discuss the Army’s new “College of the American Soldier” and how their institutions could help, by creating a partnership with the Army. The partnership will promote the education of Soldiers through the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. Their goal is to provide Soldiers with the opportunity to obtain their Bachelor’s Degree with minimal obstacles. As we all know, frequent deployments can wreak havoc with a Soldier’s plans to attend college to obtain their degree. Currently there are 10 Colleges who are participating in the program. They are:
Coastline, Barstow, Limestone and Thomas Edison State who are offering Associates Degrees through the program. In addition, Thomas Edison College, Austin Peay, Franklin, Limestone, Park, Strayer, Maryland and Empire State, offer Bachelors Degree programs.
“This program will not only benefit Soldiers, but serves the best interest of institutions as well,” said Gen. William S. Wallace, TRADOC commander. “Improving civilian-education opportunities for Soldiers throughout the their military careers helps promote the ideal of lifelong learning and extends the pursuit of knowledge well beyond a Soldier’s service commitment.”
According to officials, the program is designed to maximize the potential of a Soldier’s college credits based on their military training and education. It’s realistic that a Soldier would be able to obtain their Bachelor’s Degree before they reach retirement age. College representatives in attendance at the meeting were able to see a large amount of support from Command Sgt. Maj. John Sparks and other military officials who were present.
Colleges who participate in the program will certify the amount of credit up front that will be applied to a career noncommissioned officer degree, based on the American Council on Education’s credit recommendations. This program is also designed to assist the NCO to assess their progress towards obtaining their degree.
Through the “College of the American Soldier” the Soldier can link with a portal called the Army Career Tracker. This will show the Soldier a specific “map” towards their degree goals. They will be able to see what programs from basic Officer Education System courses will transfer as equivalent credit at any time.
“If Soldiers can see the benefits of the program up front, they’re much more likely to do it,” CSM Sparks said.
Not only will this program benefit the Soldier, but the NCO Corps as well, by developing a lifelong-learning strategy for a warrior leader development program. Not only will the program increase the scope of military training and education materials being evaluated for college credit, it will also result in limiting the residency requirements at participating colleges. The program is flexible with no time-limit for completion. This is extremely helpful with the rate of deployments that are occurring at this time. The program is designed as well, to benefit the Soldier, whether he or she choses to make a career of the military or not.
“It is better for the armed forces because they are more educated, and if they leave the armed forces more educated, it is better for America,” said TRADOC deputy commanding general, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz. “I believe it is a win-win situation.”