Education office helps Airmen learn, succeed

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Heather Heiney
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Education is no longer optional. Whether it's through formal training, on-the-job training, a traditional college or online, it is impossible to succeed without continual learning. Keesler's education office is here to help military members achieve that success.

A few services the education office offers are educational counseling, proctored testing, tuition assistance processing, satellite reception of distance learning classes, education records updating for enlisted members (officers must go through the Air Force institute of Technology) and assistance with commissioning programs.

Also, members of the education office are available to give briefings at commander's calls or for any organization that needs more information about continuing education.

There are four civilian colleges that offer classes on base -- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, William Carey University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Classes are generally held Monday through Friday in the evenings.

"Education is important because it opens opportunities," Darryl Rink, CFC services support manager said. "If you have education and experience together you're a step ahead of the next person."

One benefit that all enlisted Air Force members receive is enrollment into the largest community college in the world, the Community College of the Air Force. During basic training, members choose their Air Force Specialty Code which determines the career field in which they'll be placed. Once that AFSC is chosen, members are placed into one of the more than 80 corresponding CCAF degree programs.

Harry Reichner, CSC education services counselor, said that at any given time there are more than 300,000 people enrolled in CCAF.

To complete the degree, the member must complete 64 credits total - four in physical education, 24 in technical education, six in management, 15 in program elective, and 15 in general education. The physical education requirement is automatically fulfilled upon the completion of basic training, technical education is fulfilled through the completion of technical training and career development courses and management is fulfilled through the completion of airman leadership school. That only leaves 30 credits in program electives and general education.

"There are a lot of enlisted people out there that are closer to a degree than they think," Rink said.

There are two graduation cycles every year, in April and October. The number of Keesler graduates ranges from 120-200 per cycle. The deadline to submit all required documentation is the last Friday of every February and August.

Reichner said that many people don't realize that the CCAF is accredited by the Southeastern Association of Colleges and Schools -- the same organization that grants accreditation to civilian colleges in an 11-state region.

"I know the Air Force gives good training," Reichner said. "I would stack it up against any civilian two-year college."

If planned properly with the use of tuition assistance, a member can complete a CCAF or other associate degree, or even a bachelor's degree, for free within his or her first enlistment. Active duty members are allotted $4,500 per year for education.

Becky Scott, CSC education services counselor, said that there are commissioning programs available for enlisted personnel based on their interests, qualifications, and future endeavors. The most common options are Basic Officer Training and the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.

"I often tell members about the risk of applying to be an officer prematurely," Scott said. "For the Airmen who have less than five years active-duty service and are within the age requirement, should consider getting more experience, studying more for the (Air Force Officer Qualifying Test) and completing their bachelor's degree before submitting a package to become an officer."

"Education is important because it allows one to have choices whether military or civilian," Scott said.

Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday The office is in Room 224, Sablich Center. For more information, call 377-8708 or visit the Virtual Education Center on the Air Force Portal.