Each year, the Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) hosts a national symposium, bringing together military educators, civilian educators, post-secondary educational institutions and suppliers of quality education products and services. It’s a forum for the exchange of information on educational programs, strategies and innovation among its members and associated partners. Attendees discuss the rising cost of education within constrained military budgets, the increasing reliance on outsourcing and contracting in the education services community and the resulting implications on the services and institutions, and—ultimately—the military student, with the overarching mission being to improve the educational opportunities for military service men and women.
CalSouthern is an active supporter of CCME events. CalSouthern’s Military Education Coordinator (and former marine) Anthony Alvarado and Military Program Administrator/School Certifying Official Brett O’Rourke attended this year’s event, held February 25 – 28 at San Diego, California’s Hilton Bayfront Hotel. More than 150 exhibitors and nearly 200 military education representatives from the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard attended.
It was a fantastic learning experience for Anthony and Brett, who attended educational sessions covering topics ranging from “College Credit for Heroes,” “Community Colleges and Universities Working Together to Support Student Success” and “Disability and Accessibility Services for Military and Veteran Students in Higher Education” to “Academic Integrity in the ACE Review Process.” These sessions are created to help educational institutions like CalSouthern better prepare for assisting today’s heroes. Many of the sessions are conducted with a veteran panel format, allowing attendees to gain insight from real-life scenarios based on actual veteran students’ lives.
Along with becoming educated about policies and procedures, the CCME symposium provided a great opportunity for the university to network with Education Service Officers (officers located on military installations who work with military servicemen and women regarding their education benefits) and learn how CalSouthern can best help them offer insights about the school and higher education in general when speaking to their service members.
Some of the critical factors ESOs look for in an institution are understanding military culture and lifestyle and not treating military personnel as a number, while providing a quality education that can be used for career advancement both during and after active-duty service.
Many military education representatives also expressed a need to pass along vital information regarding military education benefits to service members. Too many times military service members are misdirected or given inaccurate information, causing them issues when using their education benefits. This is why California Southern University has a dedicated military team that travels to military bases and events dedicated to military education, conducting “education briefs” for both active-duty personnel and veterans to help them better understand their benefits.
California Southern University’s 100-percent online format was well-received at the symposium, because it allows the flexibility servicemen and women need with today’s rapid deployment tempo and constant changes of duty stations. CalSouthern’s format allows any military member with Internet access to continue their education before, during and after deployments, which eliminates the burdens associated with transferring from school to school, which so many military students encounter. Finally, the university’s dedication to personal support, as well as its commitment to understanding and meeting the specific needs of military students, resonated with military representatives at the conference.