Higher Education for Soldiers

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Getting a degree while serving in the military is becoming a little more stress-free.

That is thanks to a military program designed to give students the flexibility to start classes at home and serve abroad.

A local university ranks among the top in the nation at providing this educational opportunity.

While serving in the military can be a full-time job, a nation wide program is helping Wiregrass soldiers also take a full-time class schedule.

The program is called Service Members Opportunity Colleges, better known as SOC.

Basically, it gives a soldier the freedom to travel and stay enrolled in a collegiate system, even one based from home.

"The situations our soldiers find themselves in require complex thinking. The kinds of critical thinking that college degrees foster," says SOCAD Project Director Dr. Judith Loomer.

Troy University is one of the 1800 colleges and universities nationwide that offer the program.

What makes Troy so important in the SOC program is the fact it's the second largest producer for the Army Distance Learning Program, and, it teaches at 27 military institutions around the world.

"We're very excited to have this training here. We're always looking for ways to better our institution, the local military and their families. This is an opportunity for us to really look at the new things that are coming down in service agreements and what we can do to better serve this population," says Interim Vice Chancellor Bob Willis of the Troy University Dothan Campus.

The program is free to students.

And, although it is different from a military college, SOC leaders say a student going through the SOC program at a civilian college or university can also have opportunity to advance in the military.

The SOC program works with not only the soldiers themselves, but also their families, veterans, Coast Guard and civilian Department of Defense employees.

For more information on the program and the SOC student agreement, log onto www.soc.aascu.org.

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