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Higher Education: Your Experiences, Your Questions

Echo

"Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves"
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#1
I believe this is the correct place to post this so here it goes. I assume that being SOF means little free time for college so I'm sure those of you with degrees have some reputable references. I'm looking to further my knowledge and experience in my occupational specialty (HUMINT) while also furthering my civilian education. I am stuck on taking "civilian courses" such as Psychology and Criminal Justice or "intel courses" provided by AMU and Cochise. Which would be more beneficial in this field? Does anyone here have a degree from one of these colleges? Plan B for my career is definitely staying in my field either GSP or OGA so I'm wondering if government agencies recognize these degrees and if not, what would you recommend?
 

Marauder06

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#2
I earned an online master's degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University. It took a couple of years but I got it knocked out. I took courses while assigned to major SOF units, while deployed, and even while I was at ASOC (definitely not recommended).

The thing about online programs is that they're not very highly regarded outside the military- certain caveats apply but I found that to be the general rule. When I was applying for a certain assignment it was "yes you have a master's degree, but it was online" :mad: Yeah, sorry, I've been fighting the war for the last seven years this was the best I could do :rolleyes:

At any rate, having a degree still shows that you are motivated, focused, and committed to learning and self-improvement. Those are all good traits. Moreover, when it comes to education, "something" is better than "nothing" and having a degree could be the discriminator between you and another similarly-qualified guy. I know that was the case early in my career when I interviewed for a job as a general's aide; one lieutenant had a master's (not me) and the other didn't... guess who got the job (not me)? Finally, if nothing else might be able to transfer some credits or show improvement in your grades from high school or undergrad.

If online is the way to go for you, try to go with a program that's not (in)famous as a degree mill, like University of Phoenix, etc. Make sure the program is accredited, and keep in mind that online programs are usually more expensive than traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms.
 

Echo

"Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves"
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#3
Thanks for the advice Marauder. I'm not looking to be spoon fed names of universities or degrees, but I am a little bewildered as to what's more reputable to government agencies. I know there's no catch all answer which is why I'm looking for anyone familiar with this situation.
 

Marauder06

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#4
Are you CONUS? If so, go to the education office and make an appointment to talk to a counselor. He or she can probably give you better advice than I can. A lot of schools give constructive credit for military education; Webster credited me for something like four classes for completing the intel officers advanced course.
 

L0gan4

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#5
Im currently enrolled with AMU. I have about 14 classes until I graduate. I love the way the classes are set up how understanding the teachers are. The classes run eight weeks as opposed to a regular 16 week schedule. I would highly recommend it. I take two classes at a time and it is a pretty big workload. I would recommend taking just one class for the first couple semesters until you get the hang of it.
Be advised that there is a lot of writing. The general education is a cake walk, but the upper level course get super heavy and very analytical.
One of my best friends just finished his Intel degree with AMU. He said the upper level Intel classes required him to write 15-20 papers. This is normal in any core classes, but the Intel program is known for this.
Good luck with your choices.
BTW, AMU took all of my military courses and used them towards my bachelors. I think it was a total of 36 units. Knocking about a year off of school.
 

104TN

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#7
Personal observation: It's hard to get a degree in anything practical (read relevant to the job market) online.
 

0699

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#8
Im currently enrolled with AMU. I have about 14 classes until I graduate. I love the way the classes are set up how understanding the teachers are. The classes run eight weeks as opposed to a regular 16 week schedule. I would highly recommend it. I take two classes at a time and it is a pretty big workload. I would recommend taking just one class for the first couple semesters until you get the hang of it.
Be advised that there is a lot of writing. The general education is a cake walk, but the upper level course get super heavy and very analytical.
One of my best friends just finished his Intel degree with AMU. He said the upper level Intel classes required him to write 15-20 papers. This is normal in any core classes, but the Intel program is known for this.
Good luck with your choices.
BTW, AMU took all of my military courses and used them towards my bachelors. I think it was a total of 36 units. Knocking about a year off of school.
Note: My opinion (FWIW; if you don't care, neither do I...) is based on completeing a BA degree at a B&M school while on AD. About 50% of my classes were in class and the other half were DE. I had my tuition fully paid for by military TA; I paid about $1,000 out of pocket for books & fees.

You should complete a bachelor's degree while on AD. Too much money available through the different routes (TA, GIB, ACF, scholarships, loans, etc) to not do it. I don't buy the "I've deployed too much to go to school" BS either, as I completed 18 credit hours while deployed.

I would not judge a school based on the input of a student; the important question is what do employers think about it. IME, schools such as AMU and UoP have a poor reputation in the business/government world. Do they meet the minimum requirement? Yes. Are they the best you can do? If you were the recruiter for XXX program, who would you rate better qualified to work for your company, the candidate with a degree from AMU or the candidate with a degree from SDSU?

Here's my two cents...
1) Get a degree in a standard undergraduate program such as history, mathmatics, accounting, chemistry, etc. Stay away from the specialized degrees like intelligence studies or basket distribution, as those can be saved for a master's program.
2) Attend a B&M school. Almost all of them have DE programs now, most of them very well run. Hell, Harvard has a DE program. Stay away from any school that runs ads on TV or radio. UoP likes to tout the "we're on-line" stuff, but doesn't tell you that tons of schools have DE degrees/classes.
3)Learn all you can. Don't consider the general education courses as "BS I have to get through to get my degree". A bachelor's degree shuld imply that you're generally well rounded educationally, not that you are an expert in one field.
4) Enjoy school. Some of the best times I had in class were screwing with 19 YOs who's knowledge of the world was HS. Calling them out was awesome. :)

Good luck.
 

policemedic

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#9
I know for a fact that the University of Pennsylvania will accept AMU graduates into their graduate programs. Penn is selective about everything, so this is a pretty strong recommendation.

With that said, I think online schools will continue to suffer from the perception that they are somehow less than traditional schools. This is not the case (in fact, I think distance education is harder and requires more discipline) with schools that are properly accredited. But then again, employers will always exercise a certain amount of bias when judging which school you went to. People of otherwise equal qualifications are often selected for assignment or employment based on the recruiter's opinion of the school they went to. This can be good or bad, but it is reality and applies to traditional schooling as well as online degrees.

I do think that a degree from someplace like AMU beats the hell out of no degree.
 

Marauder06

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#10
I got an online master's and am in a B&M master's program right now. This one is waaaay harder.

I think everyone's experience is going to differ, so just do what's best for you. Having that master's (and a good GPA- finally) opened up a lot of doors for me.

I didn't know UPENN offered DL, what kinds of programs do they have?
 

0699

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#12
I know for a fact that the University of Pennsylvania will accept AMU graduates into their graduate programs. Penn is selective about everything, so this is a pretty strong recommendation.

With that said, I think online schools will continue to suffer from the perception that they are somehow less than traditional schools. This is not the case (in fact, I think distance education is harder and requires more discipline) with schools that are properly accredited. But then again, employers will always exercise a certain amount of bias when judging which school you went to. People of otherwise equal qualifications are often selected for assignment or employment based on the recruiter's opinion of the school they went to. This can be good or bad, but it is reality and applies to traditional schooling as well as online degrees.

I do think that a degree from someplace like AMU beats the hell out of no degree.
And I'm not saying the education you get from schools like AMU or UoP is bad, just that it is not as generally accepted in the outside world as more traditional schools. When you say "the University of Pennsylvania will accept AMU graduates into their graduate programs", you kind of prove my point, otherwise you would have said "The University of Phoenix will accept AMU graduates into their graduate programs". :D I have never said to someone "your school sucks", hell, the only thing my school is known for is beating UVA in 1982. But when someone walks in with a degree from a "TV school" it carries a certain name bias.

And I agree with you about the difficulty of on-line classes over in-class. Hell, a lot of in-class sessions become BS time. :D
 

policemedic

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#13
I got an online master's and am in a B&M master's program right now. This one is waaaay harder.
In which way? Is it a greater workload? To me, online is more difficult simply because it requires the student to motivate themselves more and (perhaps) manage their time a bit better. I think it's easier when you have face-to-face interaction with your professor and set times when your ass has to be in a chair. I didn't mean to imply the work itself was harder.


I didn't know UPENN offered DL, what kinds of programs do they have?
They offer a number of online classes and learning opportunities. I don't believe they have developed a fully online degree, however.

https://pennlpscommons.org/

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/summer/locations/online
 

Marauder06

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#14
Let me back up a minute- what level of education are you looking for here? That's kind of glaring piece of information I should have asked about at the outset. If you're looking AA or BA, to be honest I don't think it matters as long as you get good grades and it comes from an accredited institution. For my AS and BS I went to schools that probably 90% of the site never heard of. Unless you can get into a "major" school for undergrad, I really don't think it matters. Good on you for continuing your education, no matter what route you take.
 

policemedic

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#15
When you say "the University of Pennsylvania will accept AMU graduates into their graduate programs", you kind of prove my point, otherwise you would have said "The University of Phoenix will accept AMU graduates into their graduate programs".
You lost me here. I thought that a stamp of approval from the Ivy League was a higher validation of the quality of AMU's education than anything University of Phoenix (TV school- I like that :D ) might say.

Or maybe you're saying the same thing and I'm experiencing vapor lock? It's been known to happen.
 

Marauder06

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#16
In which way? Is it a greater workload? To me, online is more difficult simply because it requires the student to motivate themselves more and (perhaps) manage their time a bit better. I think it's easier when you have face-to-face interaction with your professor and set times when your ass has to be in a chair. I didn't mean to imply the work itself was harder.
I see.

I found online easier because it required a lot of reading- which I enjoy- and writing- which I'm really good at- and the people who were in my courses were, for the most part, not very adept at either. In short, I felt like a rock star in my online courses. The program I'm in now, most of my classmates are at least as good at the above as I am- some noticeably better- and I have to work a lot harder to get good grades. In short, I feel like the standards and expectations in the B&M program are higher.


They offer a number of online classes and learning opportunities. I don't believe they have developed a fully online degree, however.

https://pennlpscommons.org/

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/summer/locations/online
Nice, thanks.:thumbsup:
 

Echo

"Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves"
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#17
My main question remains:

1) Which would be more beneficial in HUMINT career field? "Civilian courses" such as Psychology and Criminal Justice or "intel specific courses" such as ones provided by AMU?
 

AWP

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#18
My main question remains:

1) Which would be more beneficial in HUMINT career field? "Civilian courses" such as Psychology and Criminal Justice or "intel specific courses" such as ones provided by AMU?
Looking at some gov't jobs, they may say "A Bachelor's in XXXXX" but often any BA or BS will work, especially if you have experience in that field.
 

policemedic

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#19
My main question remains:

1) Which would be more beneficial in HUMINT career field? "Civilian courses" such as Psychology and Criminal Justice or "intel specific courses" such as ones provided by AMU?
Well, we can discuss the merits of a particular school or its chosen delivery method(s), but at the end of the day you're the HUMINT guy. There are other intel gurus here, but this is your career field. You tell us; which path do you think is more beneficial?

If you were asking about police work, I'd be able to advise you. However, the reason I'd be able to do that is because I know my field well-just as you're expected to know yours.
 

SpitfireV

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#20
Honestly, from the tiny bit of informant recruiting I've done, the ability to get along with many different walks of life and a bit of animal cunning and a sense for weakness is better for HUMINT than any undergrad degree. I do know what you're asking, however.