Marines Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
The Marine Corps recruits on the intangibles; honor, courage and commitment. But once in the Corps, Marines often hear ‘What can you do for your country?,’ but Marines may wonder ‘What can the Marines Corps do for me?’
Well, putting aside world travel and a new family, Marines receive the opportunity to have a free education.
The Base Education Center provides distance learning, and traditional and nontraditional learning resources to allow service members and their family members to continue their education.
“We’re here to help,” said Bob Songer, director for the center. “Not every Marine stays in the Marine Corps for 20 years, and we provide them, or help them find, the skills or education they need to succeed in or out of the Corps.”
Prospective students begin the process by speaking to an education technician at the center who explains the education process and provides initial paperwork, said Dayna Auclair, an education technician for the Marine Corps Air Station New River Education Center.
“The process has been easy and informative,” said Lance Cpl. Erin Girton, an administrative clerk, Headquarters and Support Company, Marine Corps Engineer School. “I’ve learned a lot just from my initial consultation with the counselors.”
Following the initial meeting, perspective students are required to attend College 101, which explains details about requirements to apply for tuition assistance, said Auclair. They are also briefed on the Mini Test of Adult Basic Education.
“The mini TABE is required to determine if the student has the ability to take courses and pass,” said Songer.
Students who score too low are offered the option of enrolling in the Military Active Skills Program, which is designed to quickly bring the student up to the level necessary to begin taking college classes, said Songer.
Once students are ready, options for education range from vocational and technical training; associate, bachelor and advance degree programs with the flexibility of distance or traditional classroom learning, he said.
“We offer lunchtime classes, night and weekend classes,” said Songer. “There is a place for any schedule or interest.”
The Education Center, a part of Marine Corps Community Service’s Life Long Learning Branch, has relationships with several education institutions, that allows Marines to receive computer certifications, commercial driver’s licenses or even Rig Passes, which certifies them to work on an oil rig, he said.
Another option is the College Level Examination Program examinations, said Auclair. The CLEP tests, as they are commonly called, are free of charge examinations allowing students to test out of college courses, and helps perspective college seekers finish their degree even earlier.
With all these resources available, the next question on the minds of the Marines may be the cost.
More and more military members are using tuition assistance to enroll in an increasing number of courses annually, said Songer.
“There are no excuses to not take classes,” he said. “The commandant offers this money, why not take it?”
Tuition assistance for active duty service members provides up to $4,500 per fiscal year and $250 per semester hour in addition to any course-specific fees.
There are some strings attached to this deal, he said.
All first-time college students who voluntarily withdrawal from a class, fail to clear an incomplete class within six months or fail a class, must pay the program back, said Songer.
“You have to be serious about taking these courses, there are a lot of Marines who don’t take them seriously and it costs them a lot of money,” he said.
Whether you’re finishing your master’s degree or looking to repair diesel engines, the Education Center has an opportunity for any lifestyle or schedule.
For more information about education opportunities, contact them at (910) 451-3091 or visit Bldg. 825, next to the new Staff Noncommissioned Officers Club.