January 7, 2005 - Warren SFS member finds college to fit anyones schedule

When Staff Sgt. Scott Steeves joined the military 18 years ago, college students were usually fresh from high school and a university education almost always meant classrooms, dorms, and campus lawns.

The world has changed greatly in the last 18 years, and now more than ever, college students - like Sergeant Steeves, a computer science major at Grantham University - are older, with families and established careers. Technology is changing the way people do their jobs and access their education, and today, more students are earning degrees at a distance.

Sergeant Steeves works in the 90th Security Forces Squadron, and he spends his days researching, proofing and finalizing plans that impact security police operations on the base and in the field. At night, he and his two daughters - a high school sophomore and a 7th grader - do their homework together. Since beginning his coursework at Grantham in April, Sergeant Steeves has never set foot in a classroom, and he's able to fit his classes in between his duties to his country and his duties to his family.

Grantham is a distance education university, and all of his educational needs, from completing coursework to consulting professors, can be met online and at his convenience.

Sergeant Steeves is one of six Warren students at Grantham University, and he's part of a larger trend in distance education. 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 has allowed schools to offer more and more courses using the Internet.

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

"I've moved around a lot," said Sergeant Steeves of his 18 years in the military. "The majority of that time was spent in Germany. I moved my family there when my daughters were two years old and 18 months. I tried to take some classes in Germany and when I was stationed in California, but it never worked out. I couldn't make the classes work with my schedule and I'd get frustrated and lose interest."

With distance education, Sergeant Steeves can take his courses with him wherever he goes, and he can do his schoolwork on his own, whenever he has time.

"I've always been interested in computers," he said, "and now in the computer age distance learning makes getting an education so much easier. Compared to going to a classroom, taking classes on-line works so much better for me. This fits with my schedule."

In addition to the benefits of an education flexible enough to accommodate their unique situation, Sergeant Steeves and his fellow students are able to take advan-tage of another benefit - a full scholarship which takes care of all educational expenses not covered by the military.

"I think distance education is perfect for students in the military, especially those who do shift work and don't have time to go to class," said Sergeant Steeves. "I talk to younger Airmen and they say they don't have time to go to college. They don't realize that with the availability of the Internet, they do have time. I wish more Airmen understood that there are resources out there, that there are colleges that will fit their schedules. All they have to do is take advantage of these programs."

To learn more about distance education, contact the education office at 773-2117.