Rev UpJuly 16, 2004 - Master Sgt. James Anderson joined the military in 1987 for the opportunities it offered him. Primarily, he wanted an education.

He spent the next 18 years serving in various branches of the military and earned two associate's degrees, but deployments and a busy schedule kept him from achieving the bachelor's degree he wanted.

"It was hard," he said. "In the military, there's alwaystraining or assignments. The Air Force mission comes first.It's hard to fit college intothat."

Now, as one of about 30 Grantham University ( students at Robins, Sergeant Anderson is very close to earning his bachelor's degree in business administration one year before his 20th high school reunion. He has been able to make his coursework fit into his schedule because Grantham is a distance education institution.

Distance education programs allow students to communicate with teachers and advisors by e-mail, download coursework from the Internet, and be flexible with their education.

Traveling has no impact oncoursework - students can take tests and talk to teachers anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Twenty years ago, college almost always meant campus greens and dorm rooms. Students were likely to be 18 years old and fresh from high school.

But according to the U.S.Department of Education, enrollment in distance education courses has more than doubled since 2000.

In the past, distance learning meant taking courses through audio or video feeds. Today's technology allows schools to offer more courses using the Internet.

This new distance learning model is ideal for military personnel who are deployed, move frequently due to temporary duty assignments, or whose schedules make it difficult to attend traditional evening classes.

Editor's note: For more information about distance education programs, contact Robins'Distance Learning Center at 926-3528 or stop by Building 301, West Wing, BayC, glass door 245, room C-10.