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Earn Up to 100 Promotion Points - The Value of Civilian Education Online

Posted : Sunday January 1, 2012
Created by: MSG Randall High, U.S. Army (ret)
Many soldiers miss the promotion point cut off score by a few points each month. We’ve all heard stories about soldiers who have maxed their weapons and PT, and have a million credit hours of military education, but still can’t make cut off. The most commonly overlooked source of promotion points is civilian education. Completing college classes can result in up to 100 extra promotion points which can easily help to raise a soldier’s points above the cut off. And as you progress in your career, a college degree becomes even more important.

Visit the Human Resources Command site and review the statistics for those promoted to the senior NCO Ranks. The majority have some sort of college degree. And if you aren’t planning a career in the military, you can start working towards a college degree now so that you’re more marketable when you do decide to leave the military.

In most cases, the military pays 100% of the tuition costs associated with getting a civilian college degree. Most colleges offer online courses, making it easier for military members to continue attending college classes while they are deployed.

Obtaining a college degree takes time. It can take years to earn a degree depending on the level of effort and the time available. Enrolling in online classes can help you earn your degree faster, because you can study at any time, anywhere there is Internet access.

When you sign up for online classes you are given a list of books that are required for the class and you have time to purchase those books before the class begins. Classes are conducted in an environment that resembles an internet message board or forum. The teacher will post required reading for the week and possibly a homework assignment. The assignment may be something as simple as responding to a question in the message board that is based off the required reading.

Some teachers may post a schedule for the whole class right away, allowing you to work ahead if you desire. Some classes involve tests, which are also administered online. When taking an online college class it's a good idea to let your instructor know that you are in the military. Your instructors may allow extra time for homework assignments and alternate testing dates and times based on your work schedule.

Once you sign up for more information about enrollment in a civilian college program, be sure to let your supervisor know. They will often address this in counseling statements and NCOERs.

Here's a quick rundown of the benefits of taking college courses while serving:

  • Earn 1 promotion point for every completed credit hour
  • Earn 10 promotion points for a degree completed while serving
  • Earn 10 promotion points for a obtaining a 1/1 Defense Language Proficiency rating

As of June 1, 2011, Specialists (E4) can now earn a maximum of 75 civilian education points toward promotion to Sergeant (E5). Sergeant (E5) can earn up to 100 points toward promotion to Staff Sergeant (E6). Civilian education promotion points for the other grades remain at 100 points.

Besides getting promotion points, a college education can make you more marketable when you get out of the military. With Tuition Assistance, Tuition Top-Up, and the Post-9/11 and Montgomery GI Bills, you may be eligible to have most or all of your tuition costs paid. It's like leaving money on the table to not take advantage of it.

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