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A Soldier Studies History Online While Making History in Iraq

Soldiers stationed all over the world have the opportunity to study online while in the Army. Read how one soldier, Gerald Powless, is doing just that.

Created by: Natalie Peeterse


Soldier There has been a revolution in the way working military students can earn college degrees. No matter where you are the in the world, there are online options available to help further your education and reach your goals. University classes are available in a variety of fields, and the Army’s Tuition Assistance Program helps mitigate the cost of your education. The TA program means you're never far away from educational opportunities--just like Gerald Powless.
Gerald Powless has been enlisted in the Army for nineteen years, and he is currently working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in History in preparation for his post-Army career. He has been stationed all over the world, including Mosul, Iraq, where he was able to complete an online course.      
 
       
ASG:
   
       

What was your first experience with online education?

   
       
GP:
   
       
I began my online education in 2003. I was finding it hard to physically attend classes as I progressed in rank and responsibility. As my hours got longer and my workload got heavier, I figured it would fit me well, which it still does today. After taking a few online courses successfully, I decided it was perfect for me. I was able to work away at my classes at any time, even if I was on a deployment, as long as I had Internet access.
       
ASG:
   
       

Where were you stationed abroad?

   
       
GP:
   
       
I spent one year in Iraq in the Northern City of Mosul from October  2004 to September 2005. I successfully completed an online course in  College Algebra while I was over there.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What other courses have you taken online?

   
       
GP:
   
       
Since 2003, when I decided to pursue an Associate's Degree in General  Studies, the online courses I have completed are: Humanities and Fine  Arts, Public Speaking, Business Management, and College Algebra. I am  currently taking English Literature in pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree  in History.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

How exactly does the online format work?

   
       
GP:
   
       
Once enrolled, I get on the school website that is emailed to me,  browse around for a while, and get familiar navigating through it. I  then locate the syllabus and print it out and look it over until I  completely comprehend it. Next, I print out all of the lessons for the  subject. Finally, I put everything in order, prioritize everything,  develop a plan, begin implementing the plan, and most importantly,  stick with the plan.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What do you think of the student-teacher interaction  in an online  classroom?

   
       
GP:
   
       
It works out just fine. Of all of the classes I've taken online, I  always have my questions answered in a timely, accurate, and  professional manner. Additionally, if there is any information to be  passed on to the students, it gets disseminated quickly and  proficiently.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

Are you taking classes to work toward a promotion or  a career after the Army?

   
       
GP:
   
       
I am taking these online courses to set me up for success after I  retire from the Army -- a year from now.  I refuse to stop taking  college courses until I graduate with a master's degree, even if I have  to take one class at a time like I am doing now.
   
       
ASG:
   
       

What career are you interested in after the Army?

   
       
GP:
   
       
I am considering becoming a state park ranger in Washington, which  requires a Bachelor’s Degree in History. Teaching at a high school  level also interests me. If I did that, I'd eventually want to become a principal.
       
ASG:
   
       

Any parting thoughts for those considering an online  degree or online coursework?

   
       
GP:
   
       
I recommend that everyone should start early in their career. I wished  the same opportunities were available to me when I joined the Army  nineteen years ago. College is completely paid for right now, including  books, by the Army. Taking college courses online is not easier than  going through the actual class, but they are more convenient. These  courses work out perfectly for active duty soldiers that have rigorous,  fluctuating hours. One must be punctual and disciplined to be  successful. The secret is to do your best, and to never quit.