Through Air Force Training, Student Finds Confidence to Pursue Degrees

Military Experience Yields Time Management Tools, Study Skills

A self-described “average” high school student, Joshua St. John didn’t feel anywhere near ready for higher education. So right after he graduated in 2000, he joined the Air Force—which, as it turns out, provided the best college prep course he could have asked for.

“Going though basic training and technical school, I had to learn everything I could about things like the history of the Air Force and about my specific career field,” says Joshua, a technical sergeant.

“Through high school, I was just going through the motions and there were no ramifications if I didn’t complete my work, other than not graduating. However, in the military, if you don’t pass a particular block of training or a week of training in basic, you simply have to start over until you get it right or get sent back home. As you can imagine, that becomes a great motivator.”

After three years, and a great deal of encouragement from his supervisor, he was convinced that he’d gained the skills necessary to succeed in going back to school.

A Leg Up

A search for bachelor’s degree programs tailored to military personnel who hope to become officers led Joshua to American Sentinel University. “I was hooked after the first class,” he says—so much so that after he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree online, he immediately enrolled in the Master of Science Business Intelligence program.

“[Fewer] than 25 percent of officers have a master’s degree, so I want to be ahead of the curve,” he says.

Joshua took advantage of the university’s special military education benefits, including reduced tuition rates, the school’s ability to accept TA payments, and the minimal need for internet access while completing course work around unpredictable military work schedules.

He especially appreciated American Sentinel’s practice of providing no-cost textbooks for active-duty service members. “That’s a great benefit,” he says.

At work, he sees the payoff from his education every day. “Being in the military, management is key,” Joshua says. “You have to manage on a daily basis. In addition to [supervising] people, I work in the finance office, so I am dealing with systems, spreadsheets, and numbers all day long.”

Joshua’s practical application of his course work has streamlined his department as well. “I have developed some spreadsheets and system changes that have truly cut down a huge amount of time and money, because things are much more efficient,” he says. “As everyone knows, the old saying is ‘Time is money,’ and in my line of work that is definitely true.”

Family First

A devoted family man, Joshua has arranged his study schedule to make the most of time with his wife and two little ones. “From the second I [come in] the door, my wife and kids are my only priority,” Joshua says. Several hours later, when the kids are asleep and household tasks under control, he’s able to shift focus and tackle course work.

It’s not always easy, he admits, but the late nights are worth the extra family time. “It really comes down to routine, and you have to have support,” Joshua says. “My wife knows that at 9 o’clock-ish, when I sit down at my laptop and put my headphones on, I have to get something finished and I have entered my own little world.”

Raising the Bar

“I am pretty sure I am the only one in my family to even enroll in a master’s degree, and I will be the first one to receive it,” Joshua says. “I never thought I would get [a college-level degree]. And now that I have one, I look at it as a goal for my kids.

“I have heard the saying that your kids will strive to go above your accomplishments, so you need to set the bar high. That is what I am trying to do. I don’t want them to settle; I want them to do better than [I did].”

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