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The Education Center makes going to school a reality

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The weakening status of America's economy was a hot topic during the recent election. As an effect of the struggling economy, employers find they have to cut more jobs to keep their businesses afloat. This increases the competitiveness in both maintaining and seeking employment. So what makes one employee or future employee competitive?

Education is one way employers categorize and separate their employees. An education helps distinguish one employee over another employee who has similar working abilities. Hence, education is becoming more critical in the work place today.

The good news is Vandenberg recognizes and accommodates for such a need. The Education Center here can assist in providing opportunities for military members, spouses, and base contractors to pursue higher education.

Education Center employees encourage all to take advantage of the services they provide. As David Kimble Jr, an education specialist at the Education Center, puts it, "Come on in."

There are many functions that the Education Center provides Team V. To name a few, they provide civil service training, formal training and training for different proficiency levels in the acquisition field. For potential officer candidates, they have an abundance of information about Air Force commissioning programs. There is also a Community College of the Air Force advisor to help airman achieve their associate's degree available at the Education Center.

Military benefits allow Airmen, both officer and enlisted, the ability to obtain up to two associate degrees, a bachelor's and a master's degree, and a professional certificate of choice. Airmen are eligible to use up to $4,500 a year through the Tuition Assistance Program to toward their educational goals.

"This is a pot of gold and not a lot of people know about," Kimble said. "We are doing our best to get the word out."

Employees at the Education Center encourage our deployed members of Team V to pursue their educational goals. Servicemembers can apply for TA when they are deployed through the Education Center.

"Pay attention to time limits when applying for TA," Kimble cautions. "We have had a lot of people not able to take classes because they simply waited too long to apply."

There are four colleges that hold classes for Team V members at home. The University of La Verne, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Park University and Allan Hancock Community College are all in close proximity to the Education Center.

Online classes are another way to receive college credit for those who want to take classes on their own time. The Education Center conveniently administers tests here when an online class requires the student to take the test in person.

"The opportunity is here," said Jennifer Hollmann, the assistant director and academic advisor of the University of La Verne. "You can't say that college is too far away because it is offered here on base. You also can't say it is too expensive because your military discounts and TA will cover most of the tuition costs. We try to make college so convenient that there is no room for excuses why not to go."

The Education Center and the four colleges here work together to conduct seminars every couple of months for anybody who is interested in taking college classes. During the month of December, participating universities are planning the Holiday Blitz to be presented at the Student Lounge of the Education Center. It will include food, door prizes and information about the different programs their colleges provide.

Resources can be found at the Education Center for those who are interested in advancing their careers or furthering their education.