Navy College Offices around Navy Region Northwest installations sponsored education fairs Aug. 10-13 to educate Sailors about the education and certification opportunities.
This year's annual education fair marks the 35th anniversary of the Navy College Program.
"Sailors benefit from all the 27 different schools provided here today," said Gil Williams, Navy College director Bremerton. "Every school here today is part of the Navy College Program Distance Learning Partnership. The NCPDLP allows Sailors who are on a West Pac or on work-ups to pursue their education because all the schools allow the student to take online classes and participate in pursuit of a degree without being in the classroom."
"Without this [fair] often the first [school] you go to is the first one you wind up [attending]. It might be the best choice, but it might not be. So by giving them this opportunity to comparison shop, they can often get the best deal they can find," said Stan Monusko, Navy College director, Everett.
DART The Navy College Offices not only provide Sailors and family members with materials about different colleges and universities, but they help make the transition to student status a little easier.
"Once they make their choice, we [help with] tuition assistance. We can teach them how to apply for it. If it's other funding that they need, we can give them assistance on their G.I. Bill. We can provide them information on testing. Instead of taking a course maybe they can take an exam and get credit that way," said Monusko. "We can provide them things to help them attend the course once they've made their decision."
Certification programs available to active-duty Sailors were also presented. Through Navy Credentialing Opportunities Online, Sailors can earn qualifications for a civilian job similar to their current rate to allow for a smoother transition to civilian life.
The United Services Military Apprentice Program (USMAP) available to active-duty Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel and allows them to complete a Department of Labor apprenticeship program through normal work routine by completing hours of related tasking. Some schools even accept USMAP certification for college credit.
"A USMAP certificate is documentation of your work skills you got while you're in the military. It's transportable credentials that tells a prospective employer that you know your job and you are a journeyman," said Kenneth Ledbetter, USMAP Marketing and Outreach coordinator.
Another purpose of the education fair is to notify personnel of new programs that have become available to them such as the Department of Defense and Department of Labor-sponsored program, My Career Advancement Account, for military spouses in certain locations.
"Spouses can qualify for up to $3,000 for two years to earn a portable type of degree plan to go from one base to another as they follow their sponsor in the military," said Cheryl Pollock, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Navy College director. "This is the first year that military spouses have funding provided through the DoD."
The importance of education is not lost on Sailors both in and out of the Navy. An associate degree earns a Sailor two points toward advancement while a bachelor's degree earns four; a degree opens up more job opportunities in the civilian world.
"I think this is awesome, it's affording us an opportunity to expand our minds," said Sonar Technician Surface 2nd Class (SW) Bill Aldridge, of Naval Ocean Processing Facility Whidbey Island. "It's one thing to go to work every day and do your job, but if you take the chance to better yourself not only physically, but mentally as well by taking college courses, then you are becoming a better person in whatever you choose to do. I really hope and wish that other Sailors will take opportunities like this."
"I think that events like this are great, and the fact that there is such a wide variety of schools here is even better," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Houston, assigned to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). "One thing that I suggest to others is don't be afraid to ask questions. Get all the information you can. This fair is set up for our benefit and like myself, Sailors should be taking full advantage of the opportunities provided."
Through the year the NCO holds small education day events in order to advertise the services they provide, leading up to the annual Education Fair.
"We promote education for a variety of different reasons," said Jeana Vanhouten, fair coordinator. "Not only does education serve a person overall for their future, but it helps with promotion, staying busy and a well-rounded Sailor in general."
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Northwest, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrnw.