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Maggie O.
Master in Military History
American Military University, 2011

Initially, I decided to go to school to pursue a bachelor degree so I could obtain a military commission as an officer. My plans changed around the time that I graduated, and I decided to stay enlisted. I really enjoy attending classes and learning new things, so I decided to enroll in a master program and just take a class here and there. Before I knew it, I had completed my degree. I had always enjoyed my history classes in school, but never thought I would actually get a degree in that discipline.

I have lived in a lot of places due to my military career, and I've attended a lot of colleges as a result; I found that it was really the individual professors that made my college experience valuable and memorable. During my undergraduate experience, I studied with Dr. H. Craig Miner at Wichita State University. Dr. Miner was the author of over 30 books on Kansas history, and was also known as the Dean of Kansas History. I never missed one of his classes, and I sat in rapt attention every week as he taught us about my favorite subject - Kansas. He made history enjoyable and real. The first time he walked into the classroom, he said, "There are two things you need to know about history: People are stupid, and there isn't anything you can do about it." His love and passion for history helped me finally choose a major, and I wish I had been able to thank him for that before he passed away.

Thanks to my military career and frequent moves, I've been attending college courses since 1997 at various schools. My name is in the attendance records at the University of Southern Indiana, Indiana State University, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, and a couple of community colleges. Ultimately, I have three associate degrees - one from a community college in Indiana and two from Community College of the Air Force. My bachelor and master degrees are both from American Military University.

I joined the military when I was 18 and lived in military housing or on my own while going to school. I attended classes on campus for years, but around 2008 I decided there had to be a better way than rushing from work to a campus and fighting for parking. I took my first online class and never looked back. Online learning allowed me to complete coursework at 3:00 a.m. when I was on duty and things were quiet, or halfway across the globe when I was deployed.

My degree really has no daily impact on my career. While senior non-commissioned officers are encouraged to obtain a graduate degree, it's not required yet. It holds more personal value than professional value. I work full-time in the military and part-time as a freelance writer. I recall things from my classes that help with my work, but my jobs aren't directly in the field that I majored in. I am glad that I finished my education, as I learned more than just history and facts about things that happened in the past. I also obtained valuable skills in interpersonal relations, research and writing, and other things that help me in my daily life. I've also become more confident as a result of my education.

I did take on some debt to finish my degrees. My associate degrees were all free through military educational benefits. My bachelor was almost free; I had military education benefits that covered nearly all of the costs of my classes, but I had to pay for a few classes myself due to dropping classes and retaking them. My master cost me several thousand dollars, but I finally got Sallie Mae paid off. I have worked full-time since I was 18, so I did work while attending school, which helped immensely. I thankfully also had a nice savings account that paid for my most of my master degree.

If I could go back and do anything differently as far as my education goes, I would have buckled down and done it faster. There were so many semesters that I "took a break." There were times that my military career was so demanding; I just didn't think I could handle school on top of everything else. However, if I could do it again, I would push myself a little harder.

EduTrek Comments

  • Finish your degree as quickly as you can. If you can avoid it, don’t take breaks from school and maintain your focus on your educational goals. You’ll be more motivated to complete your education.
  • Online learning can be a great way to obtain your education at any time and place that works for you.
  • Education is about more than just your degree. You can learn other valuable skills such as interpersonal relations, research, and writing, which will help you in your daily life. Maggie even feels more confident in general because of her education.