View Full Version : For those who finished a BA/BS while Enlisted

05-09-03, 12:22 PM
To those who finished their BA/BS while enlisted, first I would like to ask if you could spare a little advice/wisdom on how best to accomplish this difficult task. I am of course a poolee but if their are any things I can do now or later to help better my timely completion it would be appreciated. It is important to me. I have 60 credits now. I am going emlisted, open contract, ship out !ugust 18th. Thanks.

lowly poolee

05-09-03, 02:55 PM

Goals are great, but details are difficult to work out in advance.

For continuing with your college education:

Boot camp and MOS qualfication are going to be full time jobs with no time for anything else.

You can make no plans until you arrive at your first permanent duty station, which may be aboard ship or anyplace in the world, but also most likely at one of the two major bases, Pendleton or Lejeune.

Your options will be; correspondence courses, Internet classes, and off=duty on-base or in-town campus attendence. The Education Office, Education Officer, or Education NCO will be the best one to advise you when you arrive at the starting gate.

Also, you may be awarded college credits for your Marine Corps experience, training, and schools.

Anything more than what I have just told you will be either wild speculation, or experience (past tense) earned by a specific individual at a specific place, time, and situation.

I leave you with one bit of parting advice. Focus your attention on becoming the best Marine you can possibly be, and the best MOS xxxx you can possibly be.

Opportunities and allowances and special considerations are made available to those who have earned them.

I spent two years in the Corps as a full time college student, one of 25 selected in 1968. Programs and opportunities change, but personal performance positions you to take advantage of them when they are available.

ALSO, a Poolee is a title and position you have earned. "Lowly" is how you identify or position yourself within the group.

I was a Direct Ship, but if I had entered the DEP, I would have been a Poolee, and proud of it. When I was a Recruiter, my Poolees KNEW they were the cream of the crop.

Mike Farrell
Cagayan de Oro

05-10-03, 07:06 AM
I earned my BA and MBA while in the Corps. Of course twenty years is adequate time to do both! It all began with my own initiative to pursue the goals I set for myself. One other motivating factor was that the Marine Corps was going to pay for most of it. I like to say "Free is me." If someone is offering to pay, I will gladly spend their money. So, my education began with taking one class per semester at my second duty station (two years into my four year enlistment). Once I regain my scholarly skills I took two classes per semester. I attended three different colleges/universities earning my credits for my BA. Fortunately, I never lost credits and my schools all gave me academic credits for military training and MOS skills that were deemed "college level" work. It took me eight years to earn my BA from the very first class to the last (Recruiting duty and some MOS schools and military training kind of cramped my ability to continue classes at a few points along the way). All you need to know is it can be done. Colleges and universities are available on every Marine Corps base/installation. You are even free to go off-base and find the school that suits your needs/degree. For more information, see the base education office when you arrive at your first duty station and ask about schools and programs in your area. Most new joins are required to check in at Base Education while completing the "check-in" process.

05-10-03, 12:16 PM
I did not complete the work on my BA while enlisted, I needed two more classes after I left the Marine Corps to graduate. Sometimes things don't work out, but more often than not you can find a way to make it work. Now, with the Universtiy of Phoenix being online, it should make it easier for you to do work whle deployed, computers are a way of life, even in the Marines. I am sure you can find a way to use one when you aren't busy being "Swift, Silent, and Deadly." Just remember you are a Marine first, and at times you may have to put other aspects of your life on hold, "for the good of the Corps."

05-13-03, 03:33 PM
I want to echo what these devildogs above said -- you can do it but it isn't necessarily easy. First and foremost, concentrate on training - your first duty is to be a Marine. Once you settle in to your first duty station I would recommend that you explore your options. Once upon a time, the Gunny would tell you that if the Corps wanted you to have a degree, they would issue you one.

There are a lot of good schools out there, but here are a few things to consider.
1. Give serious thought to an online school. The work is not easy, because you can't just sit in class and take it all in by osmosis. You have to do the work to survive. As a result, you will learn more. Also, with an online school, you don't have to change schools when you get orders to a new duty station -- some folks are fortunate like sixguns above and don't have to repeat classes, but many others have had to do a lot of stuff over because it won't transfer. Also, some online schools offer some flexibility of when during the week you have to log into the classroom and do the work.
2. Take a hard look at the faculty. Just who is teaching the courses. I did off duty education with a resident school at one of my duty stations and really had a mix of good professors and some local retirees who really didn't know crap about what they were supposed to be teaching. That is another reason why I like the online schools - you can learn from professors from all over the country and world. I am taking a graduate courses now on terrorism, and I have worked with professors who are active in the State Department, CIA, and the Mossad. You can't find those guys hanging out outside the gate in Jacksonville!
3. It helps if you are working with an institution that is focused on the military student. You don't want to struggle canceling classes and trying to schedule a make up when you have to go to the field for a week or have to stand duty on class night.
4. You will get some college credit for boot camp and some MOS schools, as well as some of the MCI (Marine Corps Institute) correspondence courses that you will be required/encouraged to take. Be sure to take advantage of CLEP and DANTES tests that will allow you to earn credit / "Place Out Of" certain classes. Through a combination of CLEP and military training, you can significantly cut back on the amount of time it will take to get your degree.
5. Pace yourself - start off with only one course at a time. The Marine Corps will let you take up to two at a time, but start with one so that you can balance your workload. You don't want your primary duty - being a Marine - suffer because you are being a student.
6. Make sure you get it done. I wouldn't recommend you approaching your chain of command with a tuition assistance form while you are a PFC, but don't wait until you have 18+ years in. I have talked with a lot of SNCOs with 18 months left before retirement who are going into overdrive trying get their degrees.

I know that this is a long post, but this is a subject that I am passionate about. First and foremost, focus on your MOS and being the best Marine that you can be. Education is important and you can get it done, but don't expect to get it done in two or three years.

Good luck.

05-13-03, 05:56 PM
I don't know if this was mentioned, but if you deploy, some classes may be taught on your ship. I taught an intro to business class while deployed. It worked out well for the Marines, there was always time to kill when not on missions and training.

SF Bill

05-29-03, 10:00 AM
Thanks, I currently don't have an MOS. Would any particular MOS make finishing a degree easier?

05-29-03, 11:12 AM

Five posts responded to your initial question. All of them, one way or another pointed out that you will be a Marine, first and foremost. That's 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There are 168 hours in a week. At best, when the situation permits, you MAY spend six hours per week in a college classroom. For the other 162 hours you will have another primary "job", i.e. being a Marine.

The question you should ask yourself is; What "job" (MOS) do you want to be doing for the other 162 hours per week?

Every MOS that I can think of, except one, is subject to deployments, transfer, field training, erratic hours, maneuvers, etc. etc. that would preclude or interfere with college attendance.

The one excluded MOS, and I don't know the number, is "brig rat". Prisoners in Federal Prisons have ample time for "in cell" college attendance without the risk of anything else interfering with their studies.

Read the above posts again. Combining all of them, I don't think ANYTHING was left out.

Your question reminds me of a scene I saw in an old movie. The recruit drives up to boot camp, asks where he should park his car and asks for someone to carry his luggage, tennis racquets and golf clubs to his room.

05-29-03, 02:09 PM
Thanks firstsgtmike, I think I saw that movie. Similar to Major League, I also saw Dead Presidents. Just trying to make myself better on the way out than when I came in.

And I don't golf. Rugby baby. We leave our helmets with the women.

05-29-03, 04:09 PM
The best MOS to get your college degree the fastest is 0000. If you can't find that on the MOS chart, it translates as "Civilian". Listen to your 1stSgt.

If your primary goal is to get a degree, don't ship to PI or San Diego, go to college as a full time student. If your primary goal is to be a Marine, then dedicate yourself to that. Based upon my experience, a realistic goal for most people is to get their AA in their first enlistment and their BA/BS sometime during their second enlistment. If you go back to my previous post, heed the suggestion to give yourself totally to the Corps for the first 18 months or so. You need to learn your current profession before you start learning your next one.

Since you already have 60 credits (assuming they will all transfer), you should be able to complete your BA/BS in about two years (that would be 3 1/2 years after you go to boot camp)and be done before you re-enlist for your next tour.

05-29-03, 04:22 PM
Preach it, mbert!

If he'd done some reading in the POOL-ee Hall and Marine Mentor forum, he mighta seen that answer once or twice before!

Cysero, do ya want a be a Marine? All other goals are secondary until you make that happen. Once ya hit a permanent duty station and see how it's goin', other considerations can be better addressed.

I do believe that the more ya learn, the more of an asset to the Corps a person will be. The more of an asset you are to the Corps, the better your career opportunites will be, both in the Corps and out. Learning and education are a good thing, and I do belive in it...but first things first. Get past that final "DISMISSED" in recruit training and the world can open up for ya in ways ya haven't imagined.

In any case, it will take a lot of work and determination on your part to make it all happen.

Good luck in your endeavor.

In the meantime, how's yer PT and do ya have things like yer General Orders memorized yet? Ya still in school? Keep yer grades up! ;) First things first....

05-29-03, 05:01 PM
Thanks guys, you've told me a totally different story than my recruiter, but then what else is new/ Well at least no one here bull****s.


05-29-03, 06:48 PM

I'll leave this discussion with a promise.

If you put the Marine Corps first, and college completion secondary, you can have the best of BOTH worlds.

Reverse the order, and life can be hell.