Journal of Higher Learning for Todayâ€™s Servicemember
Responding to the TA Situation
Vol. Ed. Promoter Lt. Col. Eurydice Stanley
Volume 8, Issue 3
Reserve Component Advisor DANTES
View from the hill U.S. Representative Tom Latham (R-IA3)
Foreign Service Careers O Social Media in the Virtual Classroom
Photo used with consent of UT2 Nicholas Waldo, USN. Use does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
We’re here to help your servicemembers shine. Whether the plan is to continue in the military or transition to civilian life, Baker College® Online can help your military personnel receive a regionally accredited college degree. Our programs are available 100% online with 24/7 access from anywhere in the world. “With Baker Online, I was able to complete my degree while I was deployed in Kuwait.” Nicholas J. Waldo— Baker College, BBa, ‘11
WhaT “MiliTary SUPPOrTiVE” MEaNS TO US. • The application fee for qualified military students is waived at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
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Baker College is a member of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC), DaNTES, GoarmyEd, and CCaF’s aU-aBC program. The college is eligible to receive Federal military and Veteran education benefits.
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Visit bakercollegeonline.com or call (800) 469-4062 for information about our programs or to schedule a face-to-face meeting on your base.
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MILITARY ADVANCED EDUCATION Features
April 2013 Volume 8, Issue 3
Cover / Q&A
Special Section: Responding to the TA situation
In March, the Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Army suspended tuition assistance until further notice in response to sequestration. These events quickly prompted public outrage, and TA was reinstated less than a month later. By Laural Hobbes
Servicemembers feeling the drive to continue their offduty academic pursuits have begun to consider the GI Bill with considerably greater frequency as an option for financing their education. This is certainly valid, but having two GI Bill options creates an overwhelming number of details to consider—and consequently many potential misunderstandings. By Bart MacMillan
In addition to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, financial aid options include programs sponsored by DoD and the VA: the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, Reserve Educational Assistance Program, Survivors and Dependents Assistance, Veterans Educational Assistance Program, the Yellow Ribbon Program and the Montgomery GI Bill. By Ramsey Sulayman
U.S. Representative Tom Latham, a co-chair of the Community College Caucus, discusses the role of the caucus in raising awareness and improving the access that servicemembers and veterans have to community colleges and other institutions. By U.S. Representative Tom Latham (R-IA3)
In its infancy, Facebook had a reputation as a procrastination tool among college students. Now, social media has found a place in the online classroom and virtual campus as a method to enhance the academic experience and give students a sense of community. By Laural Hobbes
Although it does require additional skills and expertise, a career in the Foreign Service may be a great fit for a veteran because of shared experiences in serving to represent and protect U.S. values and interests overseas. By Michael Frigand
TA: Sequestration’s Quickly Revived Casualty
View From the Hill
Departments 2 Editor’s Perspective 4 PROGRAM NOTES/people 14 CLASS NOTES 26 CCME GRAPVINE 27 RESOURCE CENTER
The GI Bill Options and a Few Popular Misconceptions
Connecting on a Virtual Campus
Figuring Out Financial Aid
16 Lieutenant Colonel Eurydice Stanley
Reserve Component Advisor DANTES
From Servicemember to Foreign Service
University Corner Chuck Kater
Associate Vice President for Distance Learning Park University
“We must shift the organizational culture of the military to one that actively promotes education.”
- Lieutenant Colonel Eurydice Stanley
Military Advanced Education Volume 8, Issue 3 April 2013
Journal of Higher Learning for Today’s Servicemember Editorial Editor Laural Hobbes firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Harrison Donnelly email@example.com Online Editorial Manager Laura Davis firstname.lastname@example.org Copy Editor Sean Carmichael email@example.com Correspondents J.B. Bissell • Maura McCarthy • Michael Frigand Kelly Fodel • Ramsey Sulayman
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EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE March was a tumultuous month for tuition assistance. As an uncertain defense budget loomed, TA benefits associated with the Marines, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard fell like dominos, quickly eliciting outrage from servicemembers, veterans groups, military advocates and lawmakers. In late March, President Barack Obama signed into law a bipartisan amendment to the continuing resolution that orders the services to reinstate TA for the duration of the fiscal year. While this is certainly a relief, it should be kept in mind that the services have not received additional funding to accommodate the reinstatement of Laural C. Hobbes TA. As of press time, it is still unknown where the Pentagon will find funds to Editor support TA; in order to accommodate TA, the budget for other programs must be reduced in such a way that will maintain force readiness. As of early April, some questions had not yet been answered. Will TA funding be restored to the previous level allotted for FY13? When will servicemembers receive the proverbial green light to sign up for classes? And what will happen in FY14? “TA is essential to the growth of a force,” said Coast Guard Education Services Officer Brian Streichert, who will be profiled in the next issue of Military Advanced Education. “Education is necessary in today’s complex style of warfare and homeland security. We need intelligent, well-read, well-educated personnel to continue keeping America at its best, either on the front lines in Afghanistan, or through the ever-challenging cyber-warfare that is being waged.” In a special section that begins on page 6, you will find information on other sources of financial aid available to servicemembers, including the GI Bill. Servicemembers should also consider taking the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program, a credit-by-examination program accepted by many colleges and universities. Earning credits through this program, which is funded through DANTES, may ultimately allow servicemembers and their spouses to save money on their degrees. Veterans can also earn college credits through the DSST program, which allows test-takers to earn up to three credits per exam. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you have about this month’s issue of MAE.
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VIEW FROM THE HILL
Community College Caucus Update By U.S. Representative Tom Latham (R-IA3)
The men and women of America’s armed forces make countless sacrifices for the sakes of their fellow countrymen. They are models of selflessness and service. In addition to owing them a debt of gratitude, it is the duty of Congress to help ensure that these patriots maximize the benefits they have earned during their careers as they successfully transition to civilian life. This includes expanding the opportunities in higher education available to them. As an advocate for Iowa’s servicemembers and veterans and a co-chair of the Community College Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, I am honored to help advance these efforts. The caucus and its membership of more than 140 representatives (plus 23 senators) are focused on raising awareness and improving the access that our military personnel have to community colleges and other institutions. While some caucuses are informal associations of members that don’t have much of a voice in policy, the Community College Caucus was founded in 2005 with the intent of actively educating members about the unique advantages of our community colleges and the key role they play in America’s education system. As highlighted in the caucus’s charter, “community colleges provide a low cost, close-to-home education to more than 11.9 million students a year.” And that goes without mentioning academic quality—the prevalence of transfer agreements with four-year institutions, for instance, is a testament to the high educational standards at today’s community colleges. Community college students are a mix of urban and rural citizens; for instance, the three community colleges that serve my Iowa district are based in an urban center (Des Moines), a midsize city (Council Bluffs) and a rural town (Creston). Students at these institutions and elsewhere are able to take advantage of the lifestyle flexibility that community colleges provide, which enables enrollees to learn at their own pace no matter where they are in life. As a result, the average age of a community college student is 29, and well over half of students are enrolled part-time, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. This sort of educational model is perfect for our servicemembers and veterans. Active duty men and women often do not have the time to attend a traditional university on a full-time basis, and many military members re-entering civilian life have families and home roots to return to. Community colleges allow these valued members of our society the chance to get a high-quality education while balancing life’s other responsibilities. www.MAE-kmi.com
The Community College Caucus is committed to maintaining and enhancing the value that these institutions bring to the members of our armed forces, and the caucus’ efforts have been and continue to be dedicated to supporting the education of active duty and veteran students attending community colleges. With the caucus’s help and support, the previous 112th Congress passed several bills later signed into law that strengthen the relationship between servicemembers and community colleges. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act, signed into law in November of 2011, paved the way for what is known as the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), which provides assistance to unemployed veterans who enter education or training programs at a community college or technical school. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance at the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill, if certain qualifications are met. Additionally, Congress passed and the president signed this January the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act, which instructs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a comprehensive policy that will ensure veterans and members of the armed forces have access to the necessary information that will best help them choose the right school. During this time of partisan gridlock in Congress, the fact that the House and Senate passed both of these pieces of legislation with near unanimity underscores the importance of providing our servicemembers the assistance they deserve and have earned. The caucus will build upon these achievements and continue its efforts during the current 113th Congress. Like the caucus has over the years, we will highlight the issues facing community colleges by hosting briefings on Capitol Hill, which are attended by members of Congress, their staffs and the general public. For 2013, the caucus will be holding briefings on topics that may include the nation’s skills gap, degree completion, workforce training and policy options for higher education reauthorization. The caucus will continue to act as a conduit and sounding board for legislation aimed at expanding educational and career opportunities for our servicemembers and veterans. As the United States economy continues to struggle and more of our men and women in uniform return from Afghanistan, we must be even more attuned to opening education and workforce training opportunities to these individuals. The Community College Caucus is committed to being a voice on Capitol Hill for community colleges and a catalyst to connecting active and retired members of the armed forces with higher education. O MAE 8.3 | 3
PROGRAM NOTES Saint Leo Business Conference A Success
Compiled by KMI Media Group staff
New Veterans Program Funding Bill Proposed Representative Jeff Miller (Fla.-01), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Ranking Member Mike Michaud (Maine-02) recently introduced the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013. The bill would require Congress to fully fund the Department of Veterans Affairs’ discretionary budget a year ahead of schedule, ensuring that all VA services will have timely, predictable funding in an era where continuing resolutions and threats of government shutdowns are all too frequent. Currently, Congress funds the medical care portion at the beginning of each fiscal year. Providing the remainder of the discretionary budget—roughly $8 billion—up front would make it easier for VA to plan for key investments and give Congress a greater level of oversight on multi-year funding proposals. The text of the House bill is available online.
PEOPLE The Fourth International Business Conference at Saint Leo University, held at University Campus in February, collaborated with the university’s 40th Military Anniversary Committee to host a panel discussion on the role the military plays in the global economy. Speakers also discussed U.S. debt and federal budget cuts. The speakers are shown here, from right to left: • • • •
Panel moderator James Whitworth, Saint Leo associate professor of social work and retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel; Edward Spenceley, senior vice president, global commercial banking, at Bank of America, and retired U.S. Army staff sergeant; Jon Bayless, vice president of business development, Tandel Systems, and retired U.S. Navy rear admiral; and Greg Celestan, chairman and chief executive officer, Celestar Corp., chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.
Through Veterans Day 2013, Saint Leo University is commemorating 40 years of service educating the armed forces, veterans and their families. The university also announced during the conference the introduction of its Doctor of Business Administration degree. Classes will start at the end of the year, and the program is being targeted to business or military professionals seeking a career change; to business professionals who wish to enhance their credentials; and to community college faculty seeking a doctoral degree.
4 | MAE 8.3
David Bergeron, the Assistant Secretary for Post-Secondary Education and a Department of Education employee for roughly 30 years, retired in March.
Compiled by KMI Media Group staff
Lauren H. Mounty has been appointed as vice president for enrollment management and student success at Adelphi University. She was previously dean of the School of Global and Professional Programs at Marist College.
Carmel Marin, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development at the Department of Education, will join the Center for American Progress as executive vice president for policy. Timothy Hoff has accepted a position as associate professor of management, healthcare systems and health policy at Northeastern University.
Jerry Masin, co-chair of the Rutgers Alumni Association Undergraduate Committee and the founder and principal advisor of CompasScale, was recently profiled in NJBIZ in an article called “Getting Veterans Plugged Into IT Careers.” The article discusses the launch of online portal GI to IT, where IT professionals will volunteer to provide free IT career counseling to veterans.
M ilitary A dvanced E ducation
Responding to the
TA Situation MAEâ€ˆ 8.3 | 5
Special Section: Responding the TA Situation Special Section: Responding to the to TA Crisis
In March, the Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Army halted new enrollments to TA—but supporters of the program quickly rallied to reverse the decision. By Laural Hobbes, MAE Editor The Air Force, Marines, Army and Coast Guard announced in early March that they had suspended their tuition assistance programs until further notice in response to sequestration, which ordered a $46 billion reduction to the DoD budget. These events quickly prompted public outrage, and TA was reinstated less than a month later. In fiscal year 2012, approximately 300,000 servicemembers took advantage of TA for undergraduate and graduate level programs, according to the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES). “I sincerely hope TA is reinstated and when it is, that servicemembers use it, rather than lose it … who can afford to throw money away?” said Lieutenant Colonel Eurydice Stanley, reserve component advisor of DANTES. The organization responded to the news by compiling a comprehensive listing of financial alternatives to TA, available at www.dantes.doded.mil/ta_alt/coll_funding.html. “The impacts of reductions to our budget have forced us to make difficult decisions on where to cut funding,” David Walts, deputy chief, FORCECOM Training Division, Coast Guard, told Military Advanced Education. “Our priority is to minimize impacts to our operations and the service we provide the public, such as search and rescue and emergency response. While the tuition assistance program is a valuable benefit we offer to our workforce, it is not critical to our operations, therefore it’s been suspended for the time being.” “I wouldn’t want to speculate about impacts to things like recruitment or readiness,” Walts continued. “That said, there is no doubt the TA program has been good for professional development and improving the proficiency of our workforce and to lose it for any extended period of time will have negative impacts over the long term.” “Tuition assistance is a voluntary education program and an aspect of personal development,” stated Educational Specialist Shawn P. Conlan, Personal & Professional Development branch head of the Marine and Family Programs Division. “If suspension of TA is long term, there are other education funding options such as the GI Bills, grants, scholarships and loans that can support a broader continuum of learning and educational goals.”
The Reinstatement Effort If a petition on www.whitehouse.gov garners 100,000 signatures within a month, the administration will issue a response. It took less than two weeks for over 100,000 American citizens to digitally sign the petition “Reinstate Military Tuition Assistance and block the Armed Service Branches from any further suspension of TA,” despite the emergence of several similar petitions. 6 | MAE 8.3
Meanwhile, as the petition went viral, Senators Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined forces to write an amendment to the six-month continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY13; the amendment would restore TA. The bipartisan effort quickly gained political allies and the endorsements of organizations like the Military Officers Association of America, American Legion, Marine Corps League, American Military Retirees Association, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, NonCommissioned Officer Association, and the American Association of Community Colleges. After the Senate and the House approved the amendment, President Obama signed it into law in late March. “I am so pleased that my bipartisan amendment to restore the TA program for servicemembers was signed into law today by the president,” Hagan said. “I’m proud to have worked with Republican Senator Inhofe to restore tuition assistance for our servicemembers who sacrifice so much for our country everyday. We cannot balance our budget on the backs of our servicemembers. By righting this wrong, we are keeping our promise to these men and women who have never given up on our country. Today, we’re signaling that we won’t give up on them.” Although it looks as though TA will return, as of press time, servicemembers still had not received verification to register for classes. In the meantime, servicemembers should continue to research alternate sources of financial aid until TA funding is officially available. O Learn more about the other financial aid options available to servicemembers in this special section. Throughout the developing TA situation, several universities and colleges created scholarships that would allow servicemember-students to continue their studies. Among these schools were Central Texas College, Central Michigan University, Troy University, Southern New Hampshire University, Touro University, Endicott College, Park University, Drury University, Upper Iowa University, Bellevue University, ECPI University, Methodist University, Capella University and Excelsior College. For updates on how additional schools plan to help students cover tuition, please visit the KMI Media Group blog, Attention!, at www.attention-kmi.com. For more information, contact MAE Editor Laural Hobbes at firstname.lastname@example.org or search our online archives for related stories at www.mae-kmi.com.
Special Section: Responding to the TA Situation
The GI Bill Options and a Few Popular Misconceptions A young Marine in my office recently announced, “I heard you could buy a house with your GI Bill.” Curious as this misunderstanding may be (and no, this is not true), it points to the fact that when the Post-9/11 GI Bill option became available in 2009, there was much more information to consider in making the best use of GI Bill benefits. With the reinstatement of tuition assistance (TA) programs up in the air, servicemembers feeling the drive to continue their off-duty academic pursuits have begun to consider the GI Bill as an option for financing their education. This is certainly valid, but having two GI Bill options, used either after separation or while on active duty, creates an overwhelming number of details to consider—and consequently many potential misunderstandings (the “GI Bill house” notwithstanding!). The GI Bill website, available at www.gibill.va.gov, contains much valuable information. The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-Chapter 30) is earned with a combination of service and a payroll deduction totaling $1,200, while the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) is earned solely by fulltime service since September 10, 2001. How these are paid out, as well as many www.MAE-kmi.com
other details explained on the website, can appear quite complicated. The Department of Veterans Affairs recommends that if both options are available, the veteran should select the school first, then contact that school’s VA official to see how each option works in that school’s context. This is highly sound advice! The Post-9/11 benefit will have the most generous payouts usually, but do not automatically assume this. The Post-9/11 options make it a highly individualized benefit program. There is no “one size fits all,” as might appear with the MGIB. The veteran (or family dependent) using Post-9/11 benefits should plan on having contact with the school’s VA official every semester of enrollment. The VA official certifies enrollment for the VA regional center, which then sends tuition payments to the school, as well as monthly stipend payments directly to the student. Some veterans have run into problems receiving these payments in a timely manner, due to a lack of efficient communication with the school’s VA certification official. Occasionally, I have encountered some veterans who did not realize until, sadly, it was too late that monthly stipend payments are prorated if school is not in
By Bart MacMillan Education and Career Specialist
session for the entire calendar month. Given that academic terms begin often in the middle or near the end of the month, not to mention the possibility of taking summers off, this creates issues for those trying to live solely off the GI Bill benefit. Commonly stated GI Bill payout amounts assume the veteran is attending school at least at the minimum full-time student rate. What constitutes “minimum full-time” varies greatly from school to school. The VA adjusts the monthly stipend payment downward if a veteran starts the term with a minimum full-time course load and drops one of those courses at any point during the school term. Additionally, the Monthly Housing Allowance stipend, paid with the Post-9/11 option, is eliminated altogether if the veteran drops to 50 percent or less of a course load. This also has been a surprise to some unsuspecting veterans. While the GI Bill was created to help the veteran with college education expenses, it is certainly possible for servicemembers to use it while on active duty. This emphasizes the fact that the primary purpose for any military education benefit was to help servicemembers obtain their baccalaureate degrees. MAE 8.3 | 7
Special Section: Responding to the TA Situation Below is a reference guide created by DANTES with information from the Department of Veterans Affairs about using the GI Bill on active duty. Information on federal financial aid, as well as how CLEP and DSST examinations may reduce the amount of college classes necessary for a servicemember’s degree program, is available at www.dantes.doded.mil.
Using the GI Bill on Active Duty* Chapter 33, Post-9/11 GI Bill
Chapter 30, Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-AD)
• • • • • • •
At least 90 days, but < 6 mos – 40% (of max)* At least 6 mos, but < 12 mos – 50%* At least 12 mos, but < 18 mos — 60%* At least 18 mos, but < 24 mos — 70%* At least 24 mos, but < 30 mos — 80% At least 30 mos, but < 36 mos — 90% At least 36 mos — 100%
Member has served for two years on active duty.
*After BMT and Initial Skills Training If you use “regular” MGIB while on active duty, VA can pay you whichever is less:
Multiple factors are involved. Consult VA website for current rates of payment. Payment may not exceed total tuition and fees. Not eligible for monthly housing allowance.
Entitlement “Burn Rate”
Entitlement is charged monthly at the rate of training time, regardless of payment amount. Example: one month of school on 1/2 time status = 1/2 month of Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Even though, while on active duty, you may receive a lower monthly rate than your basic MGIB rate, you'll use your MGIB entitlement at the same rate as if you were receiving the after-separation monthly rate.
Unused, transferred benefits may be revoked.
• The monthly rate based on tuition and fees for your course(s); or • Based on training time, your maximum monthly rate (basic rate plus any increases you may qualify for).
Varies according to school policy. To receive from a participating school:
• You must have an advance payment request on file at your school, • You must be attending school at least half time, • You must have a break of at least 30 days before the start of the term, and • VA must receive your enrollment certification at least 30 days before classes start.
*Using the GI Bill requires coordination with your school and VA. Because VA is likely to become generally overwhelmed with new enrollments, expect it to take up to six weeks or more to process new enrollments.
Disclaimer: The Department of Veterans Affairs is the official authority on questions surrounding eligibility and use of GI Bill benefits. This information is directly quoted or otherwise derived from information appearing on the VA website or current VA publications as of March 13, 2013.
TA program suspensions were highly unfortunate; yet, the concept of military education benefits, coupled with the major improvements in the GI Bill— through the passage of the Post-9/11 program over three-and-a-half years ago—indicate that U.S. armed forces personnel maintain a benefit to assist them in obtaining the highly coveted college or technical degree. 8 | MAE 8.3
The value of this only increases with evergrowing emphasis toward college education on any job applicant’s resume! The bottom line to any veteran (or eligible dependent) considering using GI Bill benefits is this: Contact a school VA official or a military base education office to explore all the possible ways the GI Bill benefits can be used. Leave no proverbial
“stone unturned” in determining the full consequences of any choice effecting the most efficient use of the GI Bill! O
For more information, contact MAE Editor Laural Hobbes at email@example.com or search our online archives for related stories at www.mae-kmi.com.
Special Section: Responding to the TA Situation
financial aid programs for servicemembers and veterans.
By Ramsey Sulayman MAE Correspondent
Education has always been about social mobility as much as it has been about gaining knowledge and preparing for a career. Pursuing higher education is often touted as “the way” to increase one’s earning potential and move up in the world. But education isn’t “the way” solely for higher education or white-collar jobs. Trade education serves much the same purpose as traditional blue-collar jobs. A master plumber or master electrician has more responsibility on the job and earns higher wages than a journeyman. Even within the military, advanced education is required to move up. Servicemembers receive points toward promotion for completing advanced civilian education, and while hardly anyone questions the value of advanced education, many question how they will pay for it. For veterans and military members, pursuing advanced education is made possible by a myriad of financial aid options, perhaps most notably the Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, there are many other programs sponsored by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) including the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, the Veterans Retraining Assistance www.MAE-kmi.com
Program, Reserve Educational Assistance Program, Survivors and Dependents Assistance, Veterans Educational Assistance Program, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and … yes, it still exists … the Montgomery GI Bill. These programs are sometimes referred to by the chapter of United States Code where they are found. For instance, the Montgomery GI Bill is often referred to as Chapter 30 while the Post-9/11 GI Bill can be referred to as Chapter 33. The significance of veteran and military education benefits cannot be underestimated. In fiscal year 2012, 945,052 veterans or dependents used VA education benefits, and 286,665 military members used tuition assistance to take 874,094 classes in FY12. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is perhaps the best and most comprehensive benefit ever offered to servicemembers. It will pay for almost any course of education: undergraduate, graduate, professional or trade. A servicemember can also pass along the benefit to a MAE 8.3 | 9
Special Section: Responding to the TA Situation of payment rules and restrictions, many of which are specifically dependent under certain conditions, providing a way to remove a required by law, such as the “payer of last resort” rule for the Postsignificant financial burden and enabling families to plan ahead for 9/11 GI Bill. In addition, there are limits on how many cumulative the education of children or a spouse. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is also months of education benefits veterans can use. The well is deep, but generous: It provides for the full cost of in-state tuition at any public there is a limit on how many times someone can dip school in the country and a subsistence allowance their bucket. for living expenses and housing. However, there are Even though students might have to plan a little significant issues that affect students’ ability to use the more carefully, securing alternate or additional sources benefit, and many of these issues are not unique to the of financial aid can be extremely helpful. Scholarships Post-9/11 GI Bill. can also augment financial aid for some segments The “sea of goodwill” for veterans and military of the military population whose options are not as members that Admiral (Ret.) Mike Mullen often speaks great, such as caregivers and spouses. The Univerof has generated a number of non-federal financial aid sity of Maryland University College, in partnership options for veterans as well. Organizations like the Pat with the Blewitt Foundation and the Yellow Ribbon Tillman Foundation provide scholarships specifically Fund, offers the Pillars of Strength scholarship speto military veterans and can augment or eliminate Rich Blewitt cifically for caregivers of severely injured veterans. the need for other financial aid. Some states also Pillars of Strength offers recipients a full scholarhave financial aid options that veterans, military and ship to UMUC for tuition, fees and books for any course of study at their families can use. Texas has the Hazlewood Act, which provides UMUC, whether at a brick and mortar location or online. Accordfree tuition and fees at state schools for qualified veterans and their ing to Rich Blewitt of the Blewitt Foundation, the scholarship was families, and the California CalGrant program, while not specifically inspired because “there were not many programs of educational for veterans, can provide over $12,000 a year in financial aid exclusive support, if any, for these great people who were sacrificing so much.” of federal financial aid. Individual schools have also stepped in and Bryant & Stratton College offers a “Salute to Spouses” scholarship some provide scholarships specifically designed for military, veterans that can be used with MyCAA, a financial aid program specifically or their families. Using scholarships and state programs, though, for spouses. can create problems for veterans using VA or DoD benefits because
My Degree. My Future. My Choice. SUNY Empire State College values my military experience and provides the support I need while completing my degree. As experts in military education, our specialists are there to guide you, while your faculty mentor works with you to develop an individualized degree plan that can lead to the career you’ve always wanted. • Credit for military training and experience • Pre-enrollment advising • Online worldwide and at more than 35 New York state locations • Affordable tuition
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10 | MAE 8.3
Special Section: Responding to the TA Situation Many schools are adopting new approaches to help ensure that veterWith so many options and issues to consider, the question for ans can make the most out of their financial aid options. These initiasomeone who qualifies becomes two-fold: “What is the best benefit to tives are found across the spectrum of schools at private for-profit, use?” and “How do I get the most out of my financial aid package?” private non-profit and public schools. Ed Lizotte of Post University, The financial aid landscape changes, sometimes dramatically, further believes that knowledge is the key to utilizing financial complicating the decision-making process. In the aid effectively, a sentiment that many others have face of budget concerns, the Marine Corps, Army, Air expressed. He said that it is important for military and Force and Coast Guard stopped accepting new enrollveteran students to “know up front what the options ment into their tuition assistance programs in March. are … so they can make the best choice.” One of the Although it was announced later that month that TA ways that Post tries to ensure students have the knowlfunding would return, it was still unavailable as of press edge necessary to effectively utilize their benefits is by time. The Post-9/11 GI Bill was radically overhauled having a “dedicated military financial support section after the original version was implemented and there … that tries to work with each student on a case-byare a lot of changes and nuances that require expert case situation” to ensure that students “understand knowledge to get the most out of the benefit. There the bucket of resources that are available to them are also issues with the programs themselves that Ed Lizotte financially.” Lizotte has also authored a book entitled require students to have some knowledge and advanced Military Education Benefits for College: A Comprehenplanning. Some financial aid issues are structural and firstname.lastname@example.org sive Guide for Military Members, Veterans, and Their inherent in the system (i.e., payment delays due to Dependents as a step-by-step guide for veterans and military members claim volume, eligibility requirements, “break pay,” etc.). Other issues who want to understand the process and cover the same topics that a are user-based (i.e., payment delays due to late filing, class or course of counselor would. He said the goal is to ensure that “if you don’t need study changes, etc.). Either way, as a practical matter, students must to go into financial aid debt, then don’t go into financial aid debt. Don’t deal with and work around those issues. incur the debt if you don’t have a need for it.” Many schools, particularly those with large numbers of veteran Other schools like University of the Incarnate Word, a private and military students, have recognized that a key factor in student Catholic university in San Antonio, have established veterans centers success is navigating the unfamiliar terrain of academia and benefits.
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Special Section: Responding to the TA Situation on campus to help student veterans and military students. Dedicated veterans centers are increasing in popularity, especially among those schools with sizable student veteran populations. The VetSuccess on Campus program, a joint effort between the VA and schools, is perhaps the best known example of a campus veterans center and integrates services to assist veterans with educational and financial aid counseling as well as health care benefits. According to Cyndi Porter, Ph.D., vice president for extended academic affairs at Incarnate Word, veterans are identified during the enrollment process because “there is a real difference in the way you serve a veteran and the way you serve a younger, traditional type of population.” Bryant & Stratton College, a for-profit institution with campuses Ed Dennis in several states and online, takes a slightly different tack. Rather than having a dedicated veterans center, Bryant & Stratton College identifies veterans and military during the enrollment process and reaches out to provide one-on-one counseling. According to Ed Dennis, military relations manager for online education at Bryant & Stratton College, students need to “[Ask] what’s my goal and define that goal and work towards it.” The individualized attention military and veteran
students receive allows them to answer that question and map their financial aid plan accordingly. According to Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America (SVA), “There are models that exist, it’s just taking these models to scale and ensuring that we can get them on as many campuses as possible.” Despite attempts to front-load the financial aid process to help students understand their benefits and walk them through the process, problems do arise. Schools have taken a variety of steps to help students deal with those issues. Dakduk said, “Colleges and universities are stepping up to support student veterans … but it’s the landlords that I worry about, because paying your rent, they’re not conscious about what’s going on with the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Michael Dakduk Some schools extend a helping hand to military and veterans by adjusting their tuition rates to the level of aid provided. For example, Incarnate Word, Bryant & Stratton College, and Post University only charge students using TA a tuition rate per credit hour that equals the credit hour rate paid by tuition assistance. This allows students using tuition assistance not have to bear any expense out of pocket in most cases. Payment delays are common, particularly for students using the Post-9/11
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Special Section: Responding to the TA Situation GI Bill, and many schools offer help to those who find themselves in the position of having to wait for payment. Some schools offer no-interest loans that students can use to pay for tuition and housing expenses. Others allow student veterans to continue in classes and register for courses as long as the school can verify that a student is eligible for benefits and they have been applied for. Lizotte explained Post University’s policy this way: “We don’t see it as a burden, we see it as the right thing to do.” Even with all the help schools provide to veteran and military students, the bills and the burden will eventually fall on the student, so experts caution students to be proactive and prepare t hemselves. Porter called not asking questions or doing research “the kiss of death” and said that getting into a veteran coordinator or counselor’s office and asking questions are the most important steps that veterans can take for themselves. Experts also agree that getting financial aid applications and class registration taken care of early is paramount. Dakduk of SVA warned, “Waiting until the last minute is a sure way to get your benefits delayed.” Meanwhile, Dennis advises military and veteran students to look at school in terms they are already familiar with, advising them to “look at college as their mission,” even when it comes to financial aid. “They need to say ‘what’s my goal?’ and define that goal and work toward it just like they did in the military.” Whom to get help from with financial aid issues is another question many veterans have. School financial aid counselors, school certifying officials, campus veteran center or veteran program personnel,
and VA personnel should be the first choices. If a school has a veteran center or specifically designated financial aid personnel students should rely on them and apprise them of problems early on. The VA also has a hotline specifically for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, although it often has a lengthy wait time. In addition, Student Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have joined forces and made VFW service officers available to assist students facing financial aid issues. Because service officers are trained, recognized by the VA, and in most cases have extensive contacts, the goal is to expedite issues and cut through red tape to get students their benefits in a more timely manner. DoD and VA educational programs have benefitted millions of people, but increasing budget pressures and shrinking military and veteran populations threaten to scale back the programs that are available. Students must be more aware of their options and how to use them than ever before. There are financial options to augment DoD and VA programs and schools are stepping up to help veteran students in unprecedented ways but the old Roman adage still holds: Caveat Emptor … Let the buyer beware. The options are out there and the help available. Students must take control of their destinies. O
For more information, contact MAE Editor Laural Hobbes at email@example.com or search our online archives for related stories at www.mae-kmi.com.
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MAE 8.3 | 13
CLASS NOTES Southern Vermont College Announces Veterans’ Scholar Program Southern Vermont College (SVC) President Karen Gross announced in February the creation of a Veterans’ Scholar Program as part of an expansion of the college’s award-winning Pipelines into Partnership Program. In this new effort, up to 12 recent veterans will be selected by their commanding officers to enter SVC in the fall 2013 or spring 2014. The selected veteran scholars will visit the SVC campus with their families at no cost, prior to beginning their studies. On a return visit to campus they will participate in an intensive orientation program on college life offered by the college’s faculty and staff. Gross said, “These activities create an opportunity for the veteran scholars to be introduced to needed academic skills, an understanding of campus culture, and the career launching opportunities at SVC that build on their military training.” Gross made the announcement during remarks at the Council of College and Military Educators Annual Symposium in San Diego. Once matriculated, the veteran scholars will receive ongoing mentoring from peers, faculty and staff throughout their college experience. Financial aid packaging beyond existing federal benefits will be provided to the veteran scholars, including through the Yellow Ribbon program in which SVC participates. Off-campus housing, suitable for nontraditional students and families, will be made available. SVC Assistant Dean Sara Patch, who will oversee the Veteran Scholars program, stated, “The entire SVC community has rallied around our objective to bring the first veterans’ cohort to campus. We are deeply committed to their success both in the classroom and beyond.” The cohort model, already successfully deployed within the SVC Pipeline Program, is aimed at reducing the obstacles many new students face as they enter and progress through a four-year college.
“For veterans, the cohort model mirrors the battalion and teamwork central to military life,” said Gross. “Together with an intensive orientation program and the continuing mentoring and support offered by this program, we will be able to ameliorate the often difficult transition from military life to civilian life.” Over the past year, President Gross has worked closely with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Labor while on leave from the college to serve as a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. She was the Department of Education’s representative on the interagency task force charged with redesigning the transition assistance program for returning servicemembers and their families pursuant to the VOW Act signed into law in November 2011 and effective on November 21, 2012. While at the Department, Gross facilitated efforts addressing veteran success on America’s campuses. Upon her return to the SVC campus, she saw the potential for veterans to succeed at SVC through an expansion of the existing Pipeline program which has met with remarkable success. The data show that the existing SVC Mountaineer Scholars, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, have retention rates and levels of engagement that outpace the SVC student population in general and national norms for similarly situated students. Gross continued, “SVC has had remarkable success with first generation, Pell-eligible students, and we can extend our learning in this arena to our veterans to foster their collegiate success. I look forward to welcoming our first cohort of veteran scholars who will, I am sure, enrich our campus with their depth and breadth of experiences and their leadership capacities. It is one small way in which we can show our appreciation for their service to our nation.”
Coursera Announces Partnerships with 29 New Schools In late February, MOOC platform Coursera welcomed 29 new universities to its community of 2.7 million students and 33 existing universities across four continents. Sixteen of the 29 new universities are international, and courses from these institutions will be available in French, Spanish, Chinese and Italian. “With the addition of so many new courses across a wide range of disciplines, languages and academic approaches, we are now able to meet the needs of a more diverse student body, and give students more academic options to explore,” said co-founder Andrew Ng. Here’s the list of the new schools: • United States California Institute of the Arts; Case Western Reserve University; Curtis Institute of Music; Northwestern University; Penn State University; Rutgers University; UC San Diego; UC Santa Cruz; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Rochester; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Wisconsin, Madison
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• Latin America Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Tecnológico de Monterrey • Europe Ecole Polytechnique, France; IE Business School, Spain; Leiden University, Netherlands; Ludwig-MaximiliansUniversitat Muenchen, Germany; Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy; Technical University Munich, Germany; Technical University of Denmark; University of Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Geneva, Switzerland; Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain • Asia The Chinese University of Hong Kong; National Taiwan University; National University of Singapore; University of Tokyo, Japan.
Compiled by KMI Media Group staff
Process Cuts Post-9/11 GI Bill Claims Processing Times by More Than Half As part of its ongoing transformation from paper-based to electronic claims processing, the Department of Veterans Affairs has continued to improve the automated payment of benefits for veterans participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill education program. As a result, VA is now providing benefit payments to currently enrolled students in an average of six days—cutting by more than half the processing time experienced during the spring enrollment period last year. This enhancement to VA’s automated processing system, called the Long Term Solution (LTS), uses approximately 80 business rules to support end-to-end automation of Post-9/11 GI Bill claims, ensuring accurate payments without the need for manual handling. During the month of February, 46 percent of incoming documents (over 115,000) for enrolled students were fully automated, and an additional 33 percent were partially automated. For enrolled students starting a new
semester of classes, processing is taking an average of six days to complete. For new students using the benefit for the first time, the average time to establish their eligibility under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is around 24 days. “We are happy to report that our newest technology has substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to process veterans’ education claims,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “It’s a good example of VBA’s transformation that is delivering better service to the fast-growing number of Post 9/11 GI Bill participants.” The rules-based processing approach LTS uses is also being built into VA’s technology for VA’s paperless disability claims processing—the Veterans Benefits Management System. Over the past three and a half years, VA has provided $27 billion in Post9/11 GI Bill benefits to approximately 938,000 veterans, servicemembers and their families, and to the universities, colleges and trade schools they attend.
Education Department Launches New Loan Counseling Tools The U.S. Department of Education has launched two key features on its studentloans.gov website: a complete counseling webpage and a new repayment estimator that lets borrowers compare what their monthly payment amounts would likely be across all seven repayment plan options. Both improvements are part of the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to make college costs more transparent and help students make informed decisions at every step of the process—from selecting a postsecondary institution to financing their education to repaying their loans. “With college graduation around the corner, thousands of students will soon start to repay their loans, and we want to help them select the repayment plan that makes sense for them,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These tools give www.MAE-kmi.com
students the information they need to understand how to better manage their student loan obligations. Our goal is to make the entire challenge of college costs much less daunting, and these tools are additional steps in that direction.” The new tools build on the Education Department’s previous initiatives to carry out the Presidential Memorandum of June 7, 2012, which called on the Secretaries of Education and the Treasury to improve information available to borrowers about their student loan repayment options. Last July, the Department unveiled the financial awareness counseling tool (FACT), an interactive loan counseling tool that covers topics ranging from managing a budget to avoiding default. The complete counseling webpage combines a number of resources, including FACT, into one comprehensive site.
APSCU Announces Top Priorities for Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act With members assembled in Washington, D.C., for their annual Hill Day, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) announced their priorities for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). “Our priorities are centered on three key goals: affordability and addressing the skills gap; simplification; and accountability and transparency. To address the needs of current and future post secondary students, reauthorization should focus on affordability as it relates to addressing our growing skills gap, a more streamlined and easy-to-understand financial aid system that continues to support access for all students; and improved transparency that leads to greater accountability,” said Sally Stroup, APSCU executive vice president of government relations and general counsel. “In the coming weeks and months we will be working with our higher education colleagues and members of Congress to help ensure that these three priorities are a central part of the reauthorization conversation.” APSCU will advocate for initiatives such as: • Access to year-round Pell Grants designed to help students complete their degrees faster so they can join the workforce sooner. • A simpler and easier-to-navigate federal student aid system, one that starts by standardizing terms and delivery of aid and improves repayment options that ease financial burdens, and recognizes individual student circumstances. • Policies that facilitate credit transfer so that degree completion is not delayed as a result of repeating coursework. • Consumer information adjusted according to the risk level of the students served and put into context so students can see realistically, how they may perform compared to their peers.
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Vol. Ed. Promoter
Encouraging Servicemember Educational Success Lieutenant Colonel Eurydice Stanley Reserve Component Advisor DANTES Lieutenant Colonel Eurydice Stanley has always been a strong advocate for education. She accepted a four-year Army ROTC scholarship to attend Florida A&M University where she graduated with honors and was a distinguished military graduate. After receiving a scholarship to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for graduate school, Stanley was given an educational delay from the Army to obtain her master’s degree in industrial relations. She was selected for an International Business Program with the Carlson School of Management, studying in Lyon, France, and traveled throughout Europe afterward. She believes she learned more during her individual travels than she did during her summer intern program, sparking a true appreciation for lifelong learning. The majority of Stanley’s career has been in human relations, personnel management or public affairs, all positions where she had the opportunity to mentor soldiers. Q: How has your background—both in personal and professional capacities—helped to prepare you for your role as the Reserve Component Advisor [RCA] of the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support [DANTES]? A: Earning a four-year Army ROTC scholarship and graduating with honors as a distinguished military graduate from Florida A&M University [FAMU] established the foundation for all of my educational endeavors, both personal and professional. [The motto] of the president of FAMU, Dr. Frederick Humphries, was “Excellence With Caring,” but he also encouraged students to do “whatever it takes” to achieve academic success. His expectations were modeled by the staff, from the professor of military science, to the director of student activities, to the professors—they were successful because they could make things happen despite any circumstance. Dr. Humphries’ tenets stayed with me throughout my career. I learned early on the difference support and encouragement can make in someone’s life, which is why educational encouragement is my focus when I’m on the road training or writing outreach articles. Sometimes, we need to remind others of their capabilities. One of the reasons many servicemembers have delayed going to school is fear. I strive to remind troops that there are many who believe in their exceptional talent, and that they can accomplish this mission. There is simply no denying the amazing capability and resilience of our armed forces, who continue to accomplish the impossible despite over 10 years of sustained war fighting on several fronts! Now, as we enter a time of drawdown, sequestration and massive budget cuts, my organization, DANTES, wants to ensure servicemembers know there are numerous resources at their disposal to assist with their educational success [www.dantes.doded.mil]. Our commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, has made his educational standard of success clear for our troops. In his first 16 | MAE 8.3
speech to a joint session of Congress in February 2009, he stated, “…I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country—and this country needs and values the talents of every American.” I strive to help facilitate that vision in any manner possible. Education can increase our standing as a country and ensures the success of our servicemembers as they perform their daily military duties or transition to civilian employment. Q: What does your position entail, and what are your priorities this year? A: My role as RCA at DANTES is to advise and provide direct input on the day-to-day operational status, needs and requirements of reserve and active duty military personnel in the area of voluntary, off-duty education to the DANTES director, Dr. Carol Berry, and staff. As the RCA, I promote the concept of higher education and encourage servicemembers and their family members as they strive to achieve personal and professional educational goals. www.MAE-kmi.com
Utilizing previous experience as an instructor/facilitator, I developed a training program titled, “The Handwriting is on the Wall” [HOW], collectively with DANTES staff. It is an educational outreach that introduces all the programs and services offered by DANTES, because the need is great. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veteran unemployment was 20.4 percent in 2012 for young men aged 18-24, down from 30.2 percent in 2011. That amount is higher than that of young non-veterans, which is 16.4 percent. Additionally, when unemployment is broken down by issues of race and gender, minorities and women have higher percentages of unemployment in every category except Asian. All of these facts are compelling, and this information is used as a means of getting participants to think and promoting a sense of “education urgency” from whatever personal perspective they may have. Bottom line: I strive to reach each HOW participant where they live and make the need to act very clear. HOW brief participants were given a note-taking guide and a handout written by Kirstin Savage, education program operations technician, entitled “Overcoming Obstacles.” That paper succinctly tells servicemembers what education documents to gather to prepare for transition prior to transitioning civilian and resources for locating the documents. To date, the HOW brief has reached thousands of servicemembers with a hands-on methodology that encourages them to think about their future goals and aspirations. In an attempt to reach more personnel, this year’s priority is to develop the capability to facilitate synchronous learning and conduct online training. Q: What are the highlights of your career, and what are you the most proud of accomplishing? A: Every position I have held, whether in education, personnel management, human relations or public affairs, has afforded me the opportunity to learn a great deal. Looking back, my career has been directly related to issues that one would think would not require avocation: promoting equity in the service, preventing military sexual assault, conveying the contributions of servicemembers to our country, and now, encouraging servicemembers to pursue their degrees while they serve. Each position initially seemed very straightforward. I could not understand why the requirement to serve as an advocate was necessary— but it was. During my first assignment was executive officer for the 5th Replacement Detachment in Fort Polk, La., in 1994, the Army was going through a drawdown. I saw the impact it had on servicemembers firsthand. As a result, I became hyper-vigilant when the drawdown was recently announced in 2011, particularly when I thought about those who did not expect to be separated. Educational awareness briefs became a means of warning as well as giving back, because military service has been a part of my life for the past 23 years. Service is not only a great source of pride, but a significant responsibility. Q: According to a presenter at CCME this year, only 10 percent of servicemembers take advantage of the CLEP exam. How do you promote awareness of the CLEP exam and the other academic tests that your office can provide? A: Gloria Chen, director, analytics and strategy for CLEP, stated, “There are about 30,000 military candidates [active duty, Reserve, Guard, government-funded civilians, officers and enlisted] who took www.MAE-kmi.com
CLEP tests under the category of DANTES in 2012. The total active duty enlisted personnel reported in 2010 was 1.2 million. Of this, about 291,000 military personnel participated in the tuition assistance program. From this population that is seeking higher education and can benefit from prior learning assessments to help accelerate their postsecondary studies, about 10 percent take advantage of CLEP. This rigorous program allows students of a wide range of ages and backgrounds to demonstrate their mastery of college-level material in introductory subjects and earn college credit, thereby saving money and time toward attaining a degree.” Aside from the HOW brief where the benefit of CLEP and DSSTs are discussed extensively, Demetra Malone, DANTES exams program manager, noted that CLEP is promoted prominently on the DANTES website and in our DIB [DANTES Information Bulletin] newsletter. “We really push the utilization of preparation tools such as OASC [Online Academic Skills Course] and study guides to ensure that servicemembers are prepared to take the test. There is no more ‘take it until you pass it’ mentality. Servicemembers get one free administration of each CLEP and DSST test title. If they do not pass, they can retake the exam on a self-pay basis, but that is still a deal compared to college tuition and the awarding of three to six credits,” she noted. Q: How do DANTES’s partnerships with organizations/military branches/government entities ultimately help DANTES to succeed in its mission? A: Participating as the representative for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Reserve Affairs in the first-ever service, joint partner review and modification of the Transition Assistance Program [TAP] in 20 years afforded me the opportunity to see firsthand what can be done through strategic partnerships. The “Transition GPS” [Goals Planning Success] revision represents a joint effort between the Departments of Defense, Labor, Veteran Affairs and Homeland Security and had representatives from every agency imaginable. Participants commented that it was an excellent opportunity to see many divergent programs pooling resources and working together. Participating in this revision afforded me and other team members the opportunity to infuse DANTES’s programs and services into the education curriculum. This will enable us to reach servicemembers who may not have previously known about our products and services, expanding DANTES’s outreach. Moving forward, DANTES has developed a strategic plan under the watchful oversight of Taheesha Quarrels, strategic plan project coordinator. DANTES fully recognizes that in order to remain competitive, relevant and cutting edge, we must follow the TAP revision model and not only maintain, but add to our strategic partner list. As stated in our strategic plan, “We [DANTES] will use these partnerships to increase engagement with the services as an enabling partner and strengthen the network of supportive education programs and services that save military and veteran students time and money while they are striving to complete their educational and career goals.” Q: Just prior to the printing of this article, the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Air Force suspended their TA programs. How would you describe your strategy for ensuring that Reservists can continue to have access to DANTES resources as sequestration goes into effect? MAE 8.3 | 17
A: DANTES is currently circling the wagons to develop resources while continuing our consistent encouragement of servicemembers to pursue their education. Nancy Hamilton, DANTES writer/editor, revised the DANTES website to provide information gathered by staff to serve as a critical resource outlining strategies that can be employed during the suspension of TA. The DANTES website historically has been focused on education professionals, but with the reduction of the military education center personnel, it has expanded to provide resources that directly target servicemembers, to include a live blog that can address TA-related questions and assist servicemembers now! The website lists TA alternatives from different perspectives: college credit, college prep and college funding, and lists resources and contacts for assistance. Additionally, DANTES resources such as the Distance Learning Readiness Self-Assessment and OASC or resources from the Office of the Under-Secretary of Defense Voluntary Education [OUSD] are listed, as well as links to other DANTES programs such as Troops to Teachers, Kuder Journey, and testing. Servicemembers can follow us on our blog, DANTES Pulse [http://doddantespulse.blogspot.com], Twitter [https://twitter. com/dod_dantes] and Facebook for the most up-to-date, official information concerning TA and other education opportunities. All of our efforts reflect how DANTES remains dedicated to responding to the ever-changing needs of the education landscape by providing the most current, relevant information for servicemembers regarding their education benefits. Regarding the second part of your question, DANTES was created for servicemembers; at this time, there are no indications that our services will be impacted by sequestration. Q: In your opinion, what are the most significant challenges facing military education today? How is DANTES poised to help? A: The recent suspension of TA is of concern because the program is so important to the educational development of our servicemembers. As leaders, we have to increase our capacity to think outside the box to meet servicemembers’ future educational needs using all of the resources in the voluntary education program. Should TA be restored, the inertia that led to servicemembers not utilizing it in the first place should be addressed. Master Chief Petty Officer David Acuff, DANTES senior enlisted advisor, and I developed a brief titled, “How Leaders can HELP” which was presented at the 2012 DoD Worldwide Education Symposium. “HELP” is an acronym standing for higher education, employment, lifelong learning and productivity. By promoting higher education or credentialing, leaders will influence the current productivity and future employment of their servicemembers. We must shift the organizational culture of the military to one that actively promotes education. Time is going to pass regardless—leaders will never go wrong encouraging troops to take one course per semester and consistently work toward the completion of a credential or degree. Also, it requires no money for leaders to send servicemembers to their respective ESOs or to the DANTES website to obtain information regarding a CLEP or DSST exam. I will be writing articles in the near future in DANTES’s DIB regarding finances and the impact they have on one’s education. One of DANTES’s recommendations is to look for available scholarships and grants until TA is restored. Also, the option of utilizing the GI Bill is always available as a stop-gap to complete an educational program 18 | MAE 8.3
if necessary. The key is for the servicemember to take the “never quit” spirit they exude 24/7 and invest that diligence into their own personal education quest. Q: In your opinion, what has been the most important recent development in voluntary education? A: There cannot be enough said about the new joint services transcript [JST] and the dedicated team behind it! The first time I heard Laurine Anderson, JST program manager, brief about her transcript, I was blown away. By implementing one common transcript to convey previous military experience, American Council on Education [ACE]recommended college credits can be more readily defined, recognized and accepted by academic institutions. The JST levels the playing field for servicemembers when applying to schools and programs. It allows them to know before they meet with an academic advisor how many ACE-recommended credits they may have. Servicemembers may want to take this into consideration when choosing their school and degree program. The JST provides servicemembers the proof in transcript form that they are already well on their way toward a degree. They are encouraged by seeing their college credits, which can serve as the catalyst to get them to seek more. For example, the first organization where I gave the HOW brief, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute [DEOMI], is essentially a 13-week human relations course, providing graduates up to 20 ACE-recommended credits. Every DEOMI student is at least a 0-3 or an E-7, meaning that they could have at least 20 credits of ACE-recommended credits from basic and prior military training if it has been ACE reviewed. Depending on how many credits are accepted from the academic institution, many DEOMI graduates recognize that they are only six or seven classes away from a degree! It is always exciting to see the light bulb come on when participants realize how close they are to achieving their educational goal! Q: What education programs or policies inspire you the most? A: TA inspired me the most because it provided servicemembers the opportunity to invest in themselves. I received an email from an education services counselor in Anchorage, Alaska. He noted the difference in airmen since TA has been cut, but he is readily looking for other options. I referred him to the DANTES website. I sincerely hope TA is reinstated and when it is, that servicemembers use it, rather than lose it … who can afford to throw money away? Q: What do you predict the next five years have in store for DANTES? A: Given the work that has been invested in developing our Strategic Plan, I am confident that in five years we will be the “go to” resource for educational support that we seek to be and there will be an increase in interactions with our stakeholders and our strategic partnerships to meet a specific objective. Per our strategic plan: “In today’s operating environment, the value of servicemember educational attainment and its linkage to the needs of the DoD go well beyond the traditional view of recruitment, development, and retention. The ability of a leaner, competent and more agile total force to meet DoD mission objectives will require servicemembers to have knowledge, skills and abilities [KSA] not readily acquired or provided solely through traditional training mechanisms and programs. The future total force will require KSAs that only a focus on www.MAE-kmi.com
life-long learning and educational experiences and attainment can provide. Additionally, as members of the armed forces transition to civilian life, it is our duty to ensure they have made the most of the educational benefits and programs available to them. Understanding of and commitment to supporting the needs of servicemembers and veterans across their career continuum is paramount to our support of the men and women who have sacrificed in support of our national security and way of life.” From DANTES’s perspective, there will be a greater life cycle approach to education awareness. This approach will benefit the services tremendously by infusing the concept of lifelong learning into everything we do. As such, it will positively impact the culture of DoD regarding the necessity of education. Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as the RCA of DANTES? A: Despite what anyone may want for them, servicemembers have to see the value in education for themselves. Adult learning is active and experiential. In a drawdown environment, there are some experiences [i.e., unemployment or homelessness] that you do not want servicemembers to experience. Education is a direct intervention that each servicemember can control. It is not an employment guarantee, but it is a critical requirement in today’s employment environment, particularly when everyone with whom you are competing for positions have similar work experience. Going back to my experiences in college, I seek to find the right key to help servicemembers unlock their own door to success. They are the only ones who can define what that looks like for them. Dr. Berry recently facilitated a review of the book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell, for the DANTES staff. Maxwell’s first law is the “Law of Intentionality.” He states that growth doesn’t just happen; you have to make a plan to become better. Regardless of the products and services DANTES can provide, it still requires the servicemember to make the choice and take action. Q: Do you have any closing thoughts you’d like to share with our readership? A: The “Handwriting on the Wall” and “How Leaders Can HELP” briefs are most effective with the avid support of leadership. Perfect example: Rear Admiral [Ret.] Barry Black is featured in my April DIB article as a mentor who inspired me during my educational journey in pursuit of my Ph.D. He has numerous earned degrees and not only enjoys learning, but encourages others to learn. He encouraged me as I wrote my dissertation, “Just write five pages per day, Eurydice.” His advice gave me a successful plan of attack, resulting in the completion of my goal, a Ph.D. in Christian Counseling and Education. I’d like to close with thoughts from a recent interview that I had with motivational speaker Les Brown regarding the current crises faced by the military. He said, “‘Crisis’ in the Chinese language means danger, but it also means opportunity, and this is the opportunity for [servicemembers] to take all of the training that they have taken in the military and bring that into their civilian life where it is applicable.” Les believes the following to be very important:
• You have to begin to look for ways in which you can continuously increase your value. Studies are indicating that unless you’ve developed a new skill every 12-18 months, you are literally locking yourself out of the marketplace. • This is not something that you do alone. If anyone knows about the value of relationships, it is military personnel. This is the time to create collaborative, achievement-driven, supportive relationships so that they can begin create some momentum and have access to skills, to resources and to opportunities that they could never reach themselves. It is very important now, more than ever before, that you align yourself with people who can bring some value to you while you bring value to them. I cannot encourage servicemembers enough to align with the resources, products and services offered by DANTES. In the February 25, 2013, edition of The Army Times, the Army shared results from a Facebook poll regarding soldiers’ transition experiences. The most prominent themes were, “Those who succeeded took the initiative to keep up with their records, get in touch with their local Veterans Affairs office and get an education.” Learn from the experiences of others while you can. My email is email@example.com. I would be happy to assist or refer you to a member of our knowledgeable staff to answer your questions. DANTES is uniquely capable of providing servicemember support as they navigate through unprecedented educational challenges. We are here to help and proud to serve! O
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MAE 8.3 | 19
Connecting on a Virtual Campus How online programs have embraced social
media to foster the sense of a virtual campus.
By Laural Hobbes, MAE Editor
But social media isn’t just a way for students to find friends or In its infancy, Facebook had a reputation as a procrastination tool activities—its benefits extend to the academics as among college students. Now, social media has found well. “We actually have a public speaking class which a place in the online classroom and virtual campus as uses YouTube for students to film their presentation a way to enhance the academic experience and give and then share them with their fellow students and students a sense of community. critique from peer to peer, as well as having instructor “If you think about a traditional university expericritique,” said Brian Muys, associate vice president, ence with a campus, you have students that meet each public relations at AMU. other not only in the classroom, but in dining halls, AMU recently established a Student Veterans student rec centers, etc. There’s that natural ability to of America chapter. Matt Peeling, a Army veteran meet people,” said Dan Soschin, associate vice presiand the AMU’s chapter president of SVA, leverages dent of interactive marketing at American Military Facebook, LinkedIn, and AMU/APUS’s internal stuUniversity (AMU). “The example I always use is, you Dan Soschin dent site, “The Quad,” to communicate with the could be at the bookstore looking to buy your Econ growing membership. 101 book, and you reach for the last book and the guy “We’ll also be expanding our use of social media next to you needs the same book. He’s got a Rolling into … video messages and Twitter,” said Peeling. “All Stones shirt on and you’re a Stones fan, and things of these methods are very useful for getting messages kick off like that.” out to the membership—and a key part of getting When an education is undertaken through dismessages out is to communicate frequently.” tance learning, such natural facilitators are not in “A good example of the kind of information we displace. “We really use our virtual communities to tribute is the recent TA retraction by the federal govreplace that experience through a number of initiaernment,” Peeling continued. “[Social media] allows tives like connecting students based upon their service the chapter to build a community of people who have branches,” said Soschin. “We use social communities similar experiences. It provides not only a way for us to to connect our students—not just academically, but Brian Muys communicate with the membership, but also provides socially and then professionally. All of our networks an easy and familiar way for the membership to colserve slightly different purposes. Of course Facebook firstname.lastname@example.org laborate among themselves. Whether the membership is more social-oriented. Then we have LinkedIn, which has questions about scholarships, tutoring, and educawe’re really using to help our students and alumni tion assistance or just networking, these communicaconnect professionally.” tion avenues help our chapter to help each other—a Through social media, AMU students can find value ingrained in military veterans through military alumni mentors—as well as internships and employtraining, active duty and civilian life.” ment. “Masters of Disaster,” for example, is an AMUAt Western Governors University (WGU), givaffiliated, Linked-In professional group of students, ing students the opportunity to interact with each alumni faculty and staff within the emergency and other and the university is the primary reason to disaster management program. “This is a very active use social media. “Because WGU is an all-online group, probably close to 1,500 members that share school, with 40,000 students and more than 20,000 career advice and career opportunities,” said Soschin. Matt Peeling alumni across the United States—and even stationed “We’ve had a number of students and alumni find at military outposts around the world—we think internships and jobs directly through this group. It’s of our social networks as a sort of virtual campus,” said Doug self-contained and it runs itself. Our social media mission is to create Smeath, the social media manager at Western Governors University. and facilitate these groups.” 20 | MAE 8.3
traditional students find on campus,” said Chumley. There are cur“Because our ‘campus’ is virtual, so are our school rently 92,070 active student users on eCampus. pride and community activities.” “ECampus is meant to enhance the connections that occur To give students the sense of being part of a student outside of the classroom—like in the student union of a bricks and body, WGU’s mascot, Sage the Night Owl, frequently appears mortar school, or in the hallway as you leave class with you classmate in videos and imagery on WGU-affiliated social media, such as or professor,” she said. Examples of communities include the MasFacebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. Additionally, ters Public Health Student Community, the Walden Fitness Club, while in-person commencement ceremonies occur twice a year, the and the Walden International Corps-Social Changers ceremony is streamed live online for students who Without Borders. cannot travel to receive their diploma and videos are Nelson Mellitz, a retired Air Force colonel curposted on various social media accounts. “And perhaps rently pursuing a doctorate of business administration, most importantly, we use The Night Owl Blog and established a virtual community for servicemembers social media to feature profiles and guest posts from and veterans. The community assists veterans and students, alumni, faculty and staff, and we frequently their families in succeeding academically. Frequently, crowd-source content by asking students to weigh in members will work together to discuss how to balance on a topic and then featuring their answers on the family, career and education; how the poor health of a blog,” said Smeath. veteran/student spouse is impacting study time; what Additionally, alumni networks on Facebook and to do next after losing a job; and how to be successful LinkedIn and a career services advice account on Nelson Mellitz in the Veterans Affairs benefits processes. The comTwitter ensure that students remain in the loop about munity had 54 members as of press time. employment opportunities even after they graduate. “When I first started the Walden University virtual community, I WGU also offers private social communities for students and quickly identified a need to open discussions among members on the alumni. In the student portal through which WGU Night Owls submit best practices to transition from military life to being a student,” said their school work and carry out other university tasks, there are both Mellitz. “Our virtual forum has allowed our members to discuss and social and learning communities for students to interact with each resolve issues related to becoming a successful student. The forum other, whether it be to get help with a particular course subject or has provided to me the 24/7 availability of more experienced veteran just to get to know each other. And a private app-based community students that I can use for advice on how best to proceed with diffion Facebook allows students and alumni to organize themselves in cult courses in my academic career. Overall, the Walden virtual comgroups based on major, geographic location, cultural or religious munity has been a valuable forum for members to discuss issues that identity, and other common interests for socializing and even hosting are specific to servicemembers/veterans and their families.” in-person meet-ups. At WGU, stories and profiles of military students figure frequently in WGU’s blog posts and other online features. “Guest bloggers from Operational Security the military community often share their experiences through social media and the student newsletter, offering advice and encouragement While social media is indeed a great way to foster a sense of to other military or military spouse students,” said Smeath. Additiona community for military-affiliated students at distance learning ally, WGU’s private Facebook app allows military and veteran students schools, universities should be aware of official social media rules to form communities with each other based on common factors like for servicemembers. If deployed servicemembers share information service, military branch, status as a military spouse and military base. on networking sites that threaten operation security (OPSEC), the Like WGU, Walden University has an official social media presence mission—and their standing with the military—may be threatened. on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube—and uses Pinterest, a Social media moderators at universities should ensure fluency in the virtual bulletin board site, as well. “Through these channels, Walden requirements laid out in military social media manuals. is focused on providing relevant content to potential students, current “My social media team is trained in understanding what OPSEC students, alumni, and their friends and family,” said Tamara Chumley, is, and what it means to our students and servicemembers,” said public relations manager at Walden University. “Our Facebook page AMU’s Soschin. “As part of my department and our responsibility for has apps specifically designed for alumni such as the interactive cirtual managing social media, we have a listening program where we’re class photo. We also hosted our annual Scholars of Change contest, an using software and analysts to listen to what our students are saying initiative where our students and alumni created short videos showing out there in the field, on our Facebook pages or other forums. We how they are applying their Walden education and experience to bring facilitate and moderate those discussions as needed, so if we do see a about positive social change, via Facebook last year.” student exhibiting comments or discussion that we think are risky, At Walden University, students can engage with faculty and peers we will often engage with that student and explain the risks associin eCampus, a student portal that features events, news and other ated with that and the benefits of protecting their information and information that keeps students connected to university life. A unique responsible posting.” feature of this portal is its virtual communities, which students, faculty As long as distance learning students use social media responsiand staff can create based on academic programs, areas of interest, bly, they will enjoy the added benefits of having a virtual community geographic location and other criteria that can foster a sense of camaat their fingertips. O raderie similar to that found on a brick-and-mortar campus. “We wanted to provide our students with the opportunity to For more information, contact MAE Editor Laural Hobbes at email@example.com or search our online archives enhance connections with students and faculty in their programs for related stories at www.mae-kmi.com. and in other programs in order to create the same sense of community www.MAE-kmi.com
MAE 8.3 | 21
to Foreign Service
Why should veterans explore careers in Foreign Service?
By Michael Frigand, MAE Correspondent
of rich white boys from the Ivy League,” said former Ambassador The Foreign Service has always been a source of intrigue to the Anthony Quainton, who is now a professor at American University’s American public. Stories of heroic Foreign Service officers dealing School of International Service. with crises abroad are commonplace in popular culture, from draThis image has been drastically altered over the years. The matic retellings through film—as in Zero Dark Thirty and Argo—to State Department now includes people from a wide range of geothe media’s extensive coverage of events such as those at the U.S. graphic, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. However, it remains less Furthermore, women comprise over half of the clear to many how people train for Foreign Service intake. Quainton has seen these changes occur careers, and what it takes to be an effectual officer firsthand, as recruitment initiatives—particularly abroad. Although it does require additional skills and during the H.W. Bush and Clinton administraexpertise, a career in the Foreign Service may be a tions—have been expanded. “[The State Department] great fit for a veteran because of shared experiences didn’t used to look like America. It now does,” he in serving to represent and protect U.S. values and said. Now, the Foreign Service is receptive to any interests overseas. exceptional candidates. The Foreign Service is almost used interchangeEchoing this shift towards diversity in candidates, ably with the State Department and its initiatives there is no clear-cut way to prepare for a career in abroad. However, since 1980 other government agenWilliam Martel the Foreign Service. Although virtually everyone cies with services abroad have the ability to use must pass the Foreign Services Officers Test (FSOT), the same personnel system as the Department of firstname.lastname@example.org there is no set background that guarantees success— State—although the vast majority of Foreign Service nor do nontraditional backgrounds prevent success. officers remain in the Department of State. Broadly Christopher Hill—former ambassador and current speaking, the purpose of the Foreign Service is to dean of the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School represent U.S. interests overseas through the deployof International Studies—said that “more and more ment of public servants. are people coming from the military into the Foreign “If [you] are thinking about the Foreign Service, Service, starting a Foreign Service career late often what [you] are really thinking about accomplishing after a military career. People in the military should is to help the United States promote their values understand that the Foreign Service is very open to and interests,” said William Martel, a professor at people with that profile.” People must simply be 59 Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diploor younger for consideration. In terms of academic macy. Foreign Service officers serve a dynamic and Christopher Hill training, a bachelor’s degree is not mandatory. However-widening number of U.S. initiatives across the ever, almost every successful recruit has a bachelor’s globe. The focuses of work change as U.S. problems degree as a minimum, with the majority holding a and policy change. For example counterterrorism, graduate degree as well. While schools do not teach counter-narcotics and environmental initiatives have to the examinations, some programs are notable for expanded, recruiting many new specialists to those the skills that they cultivate that can be easily applied fields. New specialty fields are frequently emerging, to State Department careers. as they are deemed necessary in a constantly changA good first step in investigating a potential ing world. “That is the beauty of the foreign service,” Foreign Service career would be to visit the State explained Teddy Taylor, former ambassador and curDepartment’s website and find the Diplomat in Resirent Diplomat in Residence for the D.C. area. “We are dence in your region. A Diplomat in Residence is an constantly forced to reinvent ourselves professionally, experienced Foreign Service officer who provides learn additional information, and become experts on Anthony Quainton advice and guidance. Given an individual’s backdifferent subject matters.” ground, a Diplomat in Residence is able to judge how Once seen as a homogenous group of people from a candidate can strengthen his or her knowledge and experience in the Northeast, the composition of the Foreign Service has greatly order to become a more competitive applicant in the large Foreign expanded over time. “The image of the Foreign Service when I Service application pool. joined—and I joined during the Eisenhower administration—was 22 | MAE 8.3
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense. 9/2011.
To be added to the Foreign Service officer register—the usual entrance point into the Foreign Service—an individual must first take the FSOT. The first component of this test is the written examination. Offered three times a year, this section of the exam tests U.S. government structure, U.S. history and culture, world history, economics, English expressions, and personality traits. Although there is no set way to prepare for the exam—as the breadth of what it covers is quite expansive—it is said that reading quality newspapers or periodicals daily for at least a year is one effective way to prepare for the written portion. The majority of test takers fail the written examination the first time, in which case they are encouraged to take it again. In the past, passing the written exam would automatically qualify the test taker for the oral assessment. However, as of 2007 a system called the QEP—or qualitative evaluation panel—will identify strong applicants based on personality traits and other hardto-quantify indicators of good foreign servants. The panel evaluates the essays written during the written examination to determine whether applicants possess the ideal qualities. When candidates pass QEP review, they are then invited to take the oral examination. This portion of the exam also attempts to identify whether or not candidates have the proper personalities to be Foreign Service officers and how candidates would respond to situations in the field. After successfully passing the oral portion, an applicant will be added to the register. Even so, passing the oral examination does not guarantee deployment. Although the Foreign Service has diversified itself significantly, there are shared qualities that officers must possess to succeed— many of which cannot be learned in an academic setting. People who have served in the military would already possess many of these qualities. As representatives of the U.S. abroad, interpersonal skills are absolutely crucial to members of the State Department. Diplomat in Residence Taylor explained: “You have to be very good with people because so much of what we do is based on relationships. We’re building relationships and trust; if you don’t have the kind of interpersonal skills required to do that, you’re not going to be successful.” Experience in the military provides leadership skills and experience in government-based hierarchical structures, which are also invaluable for an officer to posses. Service in the military could be very useful preparation for the QEP review and the oral examination, as well as for eventual deployment for the State Department. Yet, there are gaps between skills acquired through military service and the skills necessary to be an effective Foreign Service officer. Professor Martel differentiated between serving in the military and the State Department in terms of the range of problems encountered. He said that many of the skills necessary to be a successful Foreign Service officer—such as leadership skills—are very much the same. However, he said that the change from serving in the military to the Foreign Service “is really the change to interact on a broader scale, and to be able to focus on the broad political, social and economic dimensions of foreign policy.” Although military training helps develop skills that are conducive to a Foreign Service career, there are other areas of knowledge and experience that must be developed in order to be a competitive candidate for the State Department. Further education is one way to develop these compulsory skills. Neither graduate nor undergraduate programs teach to the FSOT. But there are ways in which academic programs can help students prepare for both the written and oral components of the
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Thomas Edison State College is one of the 12 senior public colleges and universities in New Jersey, and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000).
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other resources, including career offices that examination—and their future careers with focus on providing students with internships the State Department. Due to the breadth of and jobs in the international affairs field. knowledge required in becoming a successAcademic programs in ful Foreign Service officer, international affairs also excel the most important part of at enhancing critical thinkany university program is to ing and analytical skills. Dean receive an interdisciplinary Hill cited critical thinking as education that introduces a crucial skill for any Foreign students to a wealth of differService officer to possess. “You ent topics and theories. come into a situation that you In discussing his choice may not be familiar with and to pursue a graduate degree you must sort out what is at Tufts University’s Fletcher really going on; I think critiSchool of Law and Diplomacy, Bernardo Diaz cal thinking is the key aspect current Fletcher student Berof any academic environment, and I think it nardo Diaz described a past that inspired an is essential preparation for a Foreign Service interest in Foreign Service. Diaz lived in El officer,” said Hill. A major benefit of any Salvador for 12 years, where he witnessed higher education for a career in Foreign Serfirsthand how U.S. Foreign Service officers vice is the unquantifiable thinking skills that helped strengthen government institutions are instilled through further study. One of and social programs there. However, Diaz the strengths of the Korbel School—or other studied business as an undergraduate and institutions with a focus on international worked at a major corporation after graduaffairs—is in fostering critical thinking skills ation. His interest in international affairs and applying them to real work experiences. began as a hobby, as he read about foreign In a field as competitive as the Foreign affairs in newspapers and journals. “I would Service, a graduate degree could prove to be read The New York Times and I would read highly beneficial in landing a coveted Foreign [about] foreign affairs in all of these jourService officer position. The majority of peonals, but I never studied it as a discipline. ple entering the State Department now hold Since I lacked any formalized international graduate degrees. Dean Hill discussed the affairs specific education before coming to need for specialized skills for many Foreign Fletcher, I did know that I wanted to fill that Service positions. For instance, experience gap, and that is why I applied to graduate in geographical information systems is now school,” explained Diaz. highly in demand. However, specialized skills A very popular option for students interare often learned or further developed in ested in pursuing a Foreign Service career graduate school. Although candidates holdis to study international affairs. Although ing undergraduate degrees are given considmany schools have international affairs proeration for positions in the State Department, grams, there are a handful of universities holding graduate degrees can help people that devote whole schools to international added to the register receive job placement— affairs. Schools that belong to the Assoor graduate degrees and additional skills can ciation of Professional Schools of Internahelp expedite the promotion process once tional Affairs (APSIA)—which includes the active in the Foreign Service. University of Denver’s Josef International affairs proKorbel School, Tufts Univergrams are by no means the sity’s Fletcher School, and only academic programs that American University’s School can help prepare students for of International Service, Foreign Service careers. The along with 30 other instiState Department looks for tutions—have experts and a broad range of knowledge practitioners from the Forand skills in its examination eign Service on staff, allowing and hiring processes. Excelthe coursework to blend thesior College’s Military Studies ory with practice. This offers Sgt. Maj. program may be a particularly invaluable experience to stuLarry Fegans appealing undergraduate prodents preparing for the oral gram in transitioning from a military to a assessment, since this portion of the test Foreign Service career. “The Military Studies consists of testing responses to situational program offers a comprehensive study of problems. APSIA schools often provide many www.MAE-kmi.com
international interest and the role that the military plays in the diplomatic, informational, military and economic processes,” said Sergeant Major Larry Fegans, a professor for the Military Studies program at Excelsior. Many of the students in this program have served in—or are currently serving in— the military. “The program really hones their skills since they have a lot of real-world experience, but they build off of the experience learning about leadership and how it relates to military operations,” Fegans explained. Often given a common military background, students learn about the complexities of the State Department by using examples from current military and diplomatic situations. Many of the schools specializing in international affairs, particularly graduate programs, do not allow part-time enrollment. A benefit for full-time enrollment is that you will not only get through the coursework at a faster pace, but you will also become more immersed in the content. However, full-time enrollment may not be a realistic option for students currently in the military, as they may have to work full- or part-time or may even be deployed overseas. Part of the appeal of programs such as the Military Studies program at Excelsior College is that it allows flexibility for students. This undergraduate program consists of online coursework, which can be taken either part time or full time. Foreign language skills are crucial for Foreign Service officers. When deployed abroad, you will have to learn local languages. However, you do not have to know any foreign languages to begin a career, as the examination does not test any language other than English. Though foreign language proficiency is not required, you will get bonus points on the Foreign Service register for knowing other languages, which will help you move up the ranks. When asked which languages are in demand for Foreign Service positions, Quainton replied, “It is pretty clear, Arabic and Mandarin. There are many languages that are in demand, but it is generally the more difficult languages that are in the highest demand.” Although it may tempting to go out and learn a difficult language, Foreign Service officers often move from country to country. While Arabic may seem to be the most useful language to learn, an officer could be deployed to Turkey and Turkish would be the most useful language to know. It is also important to note that the Foreign Service does provide language training to individuals receiving positions overseas. www.MAE-kmi.com
Internships are often important experiences to have in pursuing a Foreign Service career, as they provide some professional background in the government or international affairs. Taylor explained that although internships are often useful, they are not a prerequisite to be hired by the State Department. Some people entering the Foreign Service have not had internships, and veterans may already have a leg up on them in terms of professional experience. “I would say to a young sailor, soldier or Marine, or anyone with a military background, you have the internship; it was service to the nation in the U.S. military. You don’t necessarily need the internship exposure or experience because you have been in a professional environment,” said Taylor. Whether or not it is necessary, an internship could be extremely useful. The State Department itself has a formal internship program, and offers unpaid internship opportunities stationed at embassies throughout the world. These internships would offer helpful professional experience for getting placed into Foreign Service officer positions, and would also provide more exposure to the field and thus allow for a more informed decision in deciding whether or not to pursue a career in Foreign Service in the first place. It is essential to note that entrance into the State Department is highly competitive, with only a tiny fraction of the people who initially take the written examination receiving job placement with the Foreign Service. However, people interested in serving the U.S. abroad have other options for employment too. The knowledge and skills obtained from undergraduate and graduate programs—and from related professional experiences—could easily be applied to other international service careers. As Quainton said, “Getting into the State Department, if that is [your] only goal, is going to be a long shot. But there are many other kinds of jobs in the international relations field, at other government agencies, at NGOs, and so forth, and your studies will help move you in those directions too.” The examination and hiring process to enter the State Department can be quite daunting, but the knowledge and skills obtained in the process can easily be applied to a future international service career. O
Pe n n Stat e O n l i n e
Ensuring student success More than 80 online programs Dedicated admissions and advising team Special savings on tuition for undergraduate military students A credential highly regarded by employers
www.worldcampus.psu.edu/mae12 For more information, contact MAE Editor Laural Hobbes at email@example.com or search our online archives for related stories at www.mae-kmi.com.
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The Upside of Military Tuition Assistance By Gary A. Woods Talk about topsy-turvy. The tuition assistance issue has been all over the press the past couple of weeks. Sequestration and the fiscal pressures that accompanied it forced the Department of Defense to cut something. Unfortunately, their recommendation was for the services to cut or eliminate TA as part of those savings. The Marines, Army, Air Force, along with the Coast Guard, saluted smartly and suspended it. The Navy maintained the status quo. Because of the impact on members of the armed services, suspension of TA caught the attention of key elected officials, who quickly came forward to help resolve the issue to the benefit of the servicemembers. What the leadership across the political and military spectra have used to rationalize the intent of their efforts strike at the core of why TA was instituted in the first place. Rationale used to authorize it in the 1940s holds true today. There is a big upside to TA. They know it and reminded us all of its benefits the past couple of weeks. Survey after official survey has historically proven that, after initiation of the all-voluntary military in the 1970s, education has been one of the top three reasons individuals actually join and then stay in the military. Recent testimony of service personnel chiefs corroborates that. Probably unknown to them, comments they made since TA was suspended foot-stomped rationale the department has used for decades to field and fund the program … “To aid in the recruitment and retention of members of the armed forces and to upgrade the skills of such members…” Although there is no legal restriction on the courses of study that service personnel can pursue under the program, and although the original intent of the program was to allow servicemembers to pursue coursework and degrees of their choice, emphasis over time shifted from a purely academic orientation of the students’ choice to funding programs that enhance a member’s competence in his [or her] military career field. Since its inception by the Army right after World War II, and eventually by the other services, military leadership has long realized that an educated force was a more efficient and effective force. A more efficient force meant a more proficient military, with readiness ever being the driver from leadership’s perspective. Without a doubt, TA and voluntary education provided the services a construct within which they could structure and fund 26 | MAE 8.3
academic and certificate programs that support the mission the student is there to help execute. And the commanders are well aware that the symbiotic role academe and the military play in this instance has, without doubt, provided them and the nation the best-informed, best-educated and most effective fighting force in the world. Commanders are also aware that more senior successful military students become role models for younger recruits and more impressionable personnel while on active duty, as well as on the outside once they separate. Commanders have long touted the fact that voluntary education, and the TA that helps fund it, helps keep the troops positively preoccupied, focused and contributes to their overall morale and discipline. It doesn’t end there. Once back home in their new communities, many former military return multi-fold the investment the public made in their education by serving as local business leaders, visionaries and role models for their fellow citizens and their children. They use the education, skills and experience honed in the military to contribute to the political and economic well-being of their cities, counties, states and in some instances the country as a whole. The most significant impact, though, is the one they have on their families. A vast majority of those who use TA and then finish a degree are often the very first in their families to graduate from college. As such, they have a long-term impact on the long-term well-being of themselves, their children and grandchildren. They set a multi-generational, socio-economic example that ripples into the future, to the benefit of family and country they continue to serve. Best of all … they become the example of what the military can do to help prepare others for success in the future, other citizen soldiers who help multiply the positive effect the military can have on the nation long term. Billions of dollars of ROI over time for something south of $600 million a year. Thanks to the military for funding the program. Kudos to a Congress that wouldn’t give up. O Note from Mike Heberling, president of CCME: In this month’s CCME Grapevine, Gary Woods, former DoD Chief of Voluntary Education and a past CCME president, wrote an insightful article on the significance of tuition assistance. Make sure you plan on attending the CCME Symposium in Savannah, Ga., February 10-13, 2014. www.MAE-kmi.com
The advertisers index is provided as a service to our readers. KMI cannot be held responsible for discrepancies due to last-minute changes or alterations.
MAE RESOURCE CENTER Advertisers Index American Military University............................................ 11 www.amuonline.com/mae Baker College Online. . .................................................... C2 www.bakercollegeonline.com Berkeley College........................................................... 27 www.berkeleycollege.edu/military DeVry University........................................................... 23 http://lp.keller.devry.edu/mae1b Empire State College...................................................... 10 www.esc.edu/military Excelsior University....................................................... 13 http://success.excelsior.edu/degreesformilitary Park University............................................................ 19 www.park.edu/mae Pennsylvania State University. . ......................................... 25 www.worldcampus.psu.edu/mae12 Regis University. . .......................................................... 12 www.regis.edu/cps/military Thomas Edison State College............................................ 24 http://military.tesc.edu University of Maryland University College............................ C3 http://military.umuc.edu/accomplish University of Nebraska.. .................................................. C4 http://online.nebraska.edu/mission
You helped protect our freedom. We’ll help you prepare for your future. Lauded as a military-friendly college by top publications, Berkeley College proudly supports the GI Bill and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Servicemembers may be eligible for Berkeley grants covering up to 100% of undergraduate tuition and fees remaining after federal and state grants are applied. These are just some of the benefits Berkeley offers to veterans and military students: • Fully staffed Office of Military and Veterans Affairs supports all military and veterans programs • CVET program for eligible combat veterans (cvet.com) • Veterans Resource Centers at three locations • Two active chapters of the Student Veterans of America • Participation in all DOD Military Tuition Assistance programs
Find out more. Call 800-446-5400, ext. MC9 or email VeteransAffairs@BerkeleyCollege.edu
BerkeleyCollege.edu/Military • Locations in New York, New Jersey, and Online Berkeley College reserves the right to add, discontinue, or modify its programs and policies at any time. Modifications subsequent to the original publication of this document may not be reflected here. For the most up-to-date information, please visit BerkeleyCollege.edu. P2635
Calendar April 29-30, 2013 Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Corps Competition and Conference McLean, Va. https://countmein.org/webform/women-veteranentrepreneur-corps-competition-and-conferenceregistration
May 19-22, 2013 ASTD 2013 International Conference & Exposition Dallas, Texas www.astdconference.org
February 10-13, 2014 CCME Symposium Savannah, Ga. www.ccmeonline.org
May 2013 Vol. 8, Issue 4
Journal of Higher Learning for Today’s Servicemember
Cover and In-Depth Interview with:
Brian Streichert Education Services Officer Coast Guard
Features: Online Degrees: The Hiring Perspective The Building Blocks of an Online Course Cybersecurity Academic Resource Centers Bonus Distribution: ASTD
Insertion Order Deadline: April 24, 2013 | Ad Materials Deadline: May 1, 2013 www.MAE-kmi.com
MAE 8.3 | 27
Military Advanced Education
Chuck Kater Associate Vice President for Distance Learning Park University Q: To begin with, could you please provide a brief overview of your school’s history, mission and curriculum? A: Founded in 1875 in Parkville, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City, Park University has developed into a comprehensive, independent institution that is a national leader in higher education. In 2000, Park achieved university status and now serves more than 22,600 students annually at 40 campus centers in 21 states and online, many of which are located on military installations. The university offers 10 associate, 46 bachelors and seven graduate degree programs as well as numerous certificate programs. Park University was one of the first universities to offer online courses. Q: What is your school’s background in military education? A: Park University’s close relationship with the U.S. military dates back nearly a century. The university prides itself in its longstanding partnership with the military and is recognized as one of the largest providers of online undergraduate education to the armed forces. Each year more than half of Park’s students are active-duty military, veterans or military dependents. Park University has a physical presence on 32 military installations and works collaboratively with the other on base institutions to meet the educational needs of the base community.
the scholarship program will absorb the tuition expense differential that currently exists as a consequence of the suspension of the military tuition assistance program for active-duty servicemembers. Park is actively soliciting donations to support this cause and will transform it into an ongoing sustainable program. Q: Looking ahead, how will your school realize its core objectives and aspirations? A: Park University completed a five year strategic plan in 2012, titled “Park’s Promise.” It includes measurable strategic and operational objectives which will create a culture of excellence for the entire university community. While many universities create strategic plans, Park’s Promise holds the administration, faculty and staff accountable for outcomes which will be visible via an electronic dashboard. The most important category of the strategic plan is “student success” which factors heavily into our university “branding” initiative.
Q: What makes your school unique in the benefits and programs you offer to military service members?
Q: What do you think are the key issues facing higher education today?
A: Park University’s ongoing commitment to those in service was demonstrated most recently by the creation and deployment of the Park Emergency Military Scholarship for military students attending the university, for which we received national recognition. Created to “bridge the gap” between the GI Bill and other forms of available financial aid and tuition costs,
A: While the need for institutional accountability is often cited, I believe that we need to accept personal accountability for the educational experiences we provide. Knowledge acquisition is no longer the primary reason to participate in higher education. We now facilitate students through multiple processes which build skills and knowledge with respect to information application to
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solve problems. Working as a member of a team to formulate creative solutions to emergent problems is highly valued by the organizations that employ our graduates. “Branding” of institutions has emerged as a competitive necessity as a consequence of a crowded marketplace with many providers offering degrees and certificates that appear equivalent. The millennial generation by all accounts did not have the success enjoyed by previous generations with regard to their experience in leveraging their college degree. While the economy played a role, it remains to be seen how this generation will advise their children regarding their college choice and major area of study. Q: What is your school doing to keep up with growing technologies and opportunities related to distance learning? A: We recently deployed our mobile application to allow students to complete their online courses via their phone or mobile device. Two areas in which we are piloting new technologies include the authentication of student identification and the assessment of student outcomes. Assessment of student outcomes demands that we collect data and act on the results across all delivery modalities to improve student performance. An enterprisewide learning management system with an embedded application that facilitates this effort is being tested and deployed. Q: Do you have any closing thoughts? A: The perceptual line between profit and nonprofit institutions will continue to blur in terms of their practices as the race to sustain or grow enrollment levels increases. Brands that speak to specific market segments will acquire market share from others. Institutions will become more focused on the distinctive student populations they serve and how best to meet their needs, resulting in organizational performance improvements that will cause our institutions to become more market-driven. O www.MAE-kmi.com
Some people only See a camp. We See a campuS.
Since 1947, we’ve been creating learning opportunities—from a hotel ballroom in Wiesbaden to online classes at sea, to forward bases in Afghanistan. Today, University of Maryland University College (UMUC) offers more than 90 undergraduate or graduate programs entirely online. We’re on base or on-site in more than 25 countries, because we can turn just about anyplace into a campus.
at your Service Since 1947
University of Maryland University College is the nation’s largest public university.
Learn more • 877-275-UMUC • military.umuc.edu/accomplish
online.nebraska.edu/mission 100+ online programs from four, military-friendly campuses, including: • Technology
• General Studies
• Public Administration
• Political Science
• Criminal Justice
• Information Security/ Assurance
• Health Sciences
• And More
Proud participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program.