Back to school!

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Orin Johnson
  • 934th Operations Group
Yuk! That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about going back to school.
Now, when I say Yuk it's not because of the thought of going to school and learning or expanding my knowledge, it is solely centered on the thought of committing to the required time and investment needed in order to complete any higher education goals at this point in my life.

The big million dollar question I believe most people have when they contemplate going back to school is where and/or when can I possibly fit going back to school into my already busy schedule? I already have more commitments on my plate than time allows so how in the world could I ever commit to something I don't have enough of already, more time!

Here is a list of 10 things that come to mind when I myself have contemplated signing up for additional college courses.
1) Married with a couple of kids that need to be driven here and there
2) Work a full time job, 40+hrs a week
3) Work a part time job (USAFR), As a current and qualified crewmember I fly 1 night a week, 1 cross country mission every quarter + all normal UTA's
4) Being committed to the community in which I live I sit on one of my community's boards
5) Volunteer at my local church
6) Do volunteer work for a local non-profit organization
7) Try to keep up on 2+ acres of a manicured lawn
8) Home maintenance
9) Make family a priority
10) And of course keep the real boss (wife) happy!
This is merely the list of commitments for one man. Everyone has their own list of reasons/excuses/commitments as to why they are too busy to go back to school.
In my opinion these along with many other issues are exactly what keep people from getting signed up and going back to school and completing their Associate, baccalaureate or Masters degrees.

For years I have been taking a class here and there until about 2 years ago I made the commitment to completing at least my associate degree through CCAF mainly because of the increased priority amongst the enlisted grades in order of being promoted to the top 2 grades of E-8 & E-9. I did just that and completed my CCAF degree in Aviation Operations. What I found after enrolling and diving into the classes that were required for the completion of my program is that is wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be. I found that even though I have a lot of things on my plate, with a little realigning of my schedule to be more efficient with my time I was able to complete the required courses without too much interference from my other commitments & obligations.

As for pulling the trigger and making that commitment, I found many benefits of higher education that may make it worth the investment. After some research there are common thoughts and beliefs on the benefits of higher education. The benefits found from having attained post high school education are both monetary & non-monetary in nature.

The first and most commonly talked about benefit is the higher income potential or increase in the average annual earnings of someone. As well, the income potential is also related to the level of higher education completed, i.e. associate, baccalaureate, masters etc... this holds true for all demographic groups from men to women, race, religion etc... It's thought that college graduates can earn up 73% more over a lifetime than high school graduates, and those with advanced degrees could potentially earn 2-3 times as much as high school graduates.

The monetary value does not stop at the individual either. The higher earnings of educated workers generates higher local, state and federal level tax payments alleviating dependence and stress imposed on social safety-net reliant programs. Not only do educated workers generate more tax dollars they are less likely themselves to be on any of the social safety-net reliant programs like unemployment and also avoid living in poverty.

Educated workers are also less likely to smoke or have narcotic addictions; they have lower incarceration rates and live healthier lifestyles resulting in less hardship on the health care industry. They are actually living longer and are more productive in what they do, are more likely to volunteer where needed, and are more likely to vote than not.

Due to the increase in Individual health and well-being educated workers are more likely to gain employment in jobs that offer good benefits packages such as paid vacation, sick leave, or company retirement plans. Employers who need highly trained and educated workers tend to view benefits packages as one way to gain an edge over competing employers. By offering generous benefits packages, some employers also hope to reduce turnover in positions that require trained or experienced employee's and find that it is a good return on investment.

The benefit of higher education doesn't stop there. It has been found that people with post-secondary education play a very important and vital and role in shaping of future generations to come. Kids and teens alike are impressionable and far more likely to attend some form of technical training or higher education after high school due to their association or relationship of people that have attended such training themselves.

Success breeds success! Keep on learning!