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Getting a college degree, advancing your career

  • Published
  • By Maj. Dexter Nelson
  • 90th Force Support Squadron commander
After graduating from high school, I chose to enlist in the Air Force rather than attend college. My thought was that college just wasn't for me. I entered the Air Force as a personnel specialist and when I wasn't studying my career development courses, you could find me at the fitness center playing basketball - every day. And after my first three years on active duty, you still found me at the gym playing basketball everyday -- but I had a supervisor who kept encouraging me to "go to school." After about a year of listening to her, I finally took her advice which has led to many opportunities in my Air Force career.

Now let's shift the focus to you. You've been telling yourself that you'll get that degree when your schedule clears up, but that just hasn't happened. Could it be that you're working on your CDCs? Or studying for promotion? Or could it be that you're too busy with your family? Or because you feel you're not prepared. Don't give up as there are many benefits to earning your college degree.

Many Airmen feel they don't have the time to pursue higher education, but if you really analyze your time, you might find pockets of spare time during lunch, on the weekends, or when the kids are at soccer practice. Take advantage of your window of opportunity. Start small by working on your associate's degree through the Community College of the Air Force. Depending on your technical school and career field, you may already have lot of college credits towards your degree, but you have to take that first step and visit the education counter.

They will advise you on the many courses offered here on base and online. Online courses have come a long way since I took my first "distance learning" course at Eastern New Mexico University, N.M., back in 1995. Gone are the days of watching an instructor on a television screen and having to dial into the classroom to ask a question on a thirty-second delay.

And in case you're wondering, 24 years later, I still keep in touch with my old supervisor, because it was her leadership and wisdom that led me to the classroom and to the position I'm in now.