I have heard many times that education is the great equalizer.
The Air Force takes in people of all races, cultures and backgrounds and unifies them under simple beliefs and values. The enlisted force structure serves as the common language for force development, and education plays a major role.
We all know education creates opportunity, and yet only a small percentage of our force takes full advantage of the tuition assistance program. Not taking advantage of this will directly affect your career progression and professional development. Creating new tools through higher education will open multiple doors giving you peace of mind and pride as well.
The Community College of the Air Force associate degree is a minimum requirement for E-8 promotion, and boards will start for E-7 in 2015. Not everybody strives to be a chief master sergeant, but to not give yourself a chance to compete is a great disservice to yourself. There is a formula to career progression. It is simple and should be explained early in everyone’s career. For those who already have a college degree, you can show your peers and subordinates how you did it.
I find that most people do want to go to school. They just lack the motivation or the know-how. I encourage all tiers to become familiar with the General Education Mobile Program and the Associate-To-Baccalaureate Cooperative Program. If you haven’t heard of these programs, then you are behind the curve and hurting your Airmen who come
to you with education questions.
Just as education opens doors, not having one will close them. We need to allow the fear of being restricted to push us so we can reap the full benefits of our hard work. I often hear people say that if they had only taken one class a year, they would have their CCAF and then some. Do not wait and let opportunities pass you by, because life does not begin and end with the Air Force.
The private sector is not as forgiving as the military because the competition is quite fierce, especially because the economy isn’t booming. I believe the Air Force gives us leniency in order for us to learn and improve. Showing up late a few times at a big corporation will get you more than a letter of reprimand. It will simply give you the opportunity to work elsewhere. Staying true to our core values coupled with education can give us a leg up on the competition after we leave the service.
The human mind experiences fear for a good reason: preservation of life. Create a healthy fear of a claustrophobic career to preserve yours.
Lauren Bacall once said, “Standing still is the fastest way of moving backward in a rapidly changing world.”
I think we all can agree that the Air Force is ever changing, so let your education give you the flexibility needed to make it.