Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Managing chaos during the job search process- By Kevin K. Dean

No one wants to create more chaos and stress in their own lives but job searches inherently cause stress. It’s ironic that a process to minimize stress actually causes more. Here are a few brief tips based on people’s experience who recently received job offers:

Don’t thinkoutside the box”- forget all the cheesy management titles about cheese and parachutes and focus on what works and that’s creating relationships and building value. If you hand your cover letter to a friend do they get excited and wonder why you don’t work in their office or do they smile and say that’s a nice cover letter. A cover letter should get a hiring manager excited enough to get off Pinterest and over to the managers desk with your letter in hand.

Buzzwords- No term has caused more paper to get recycled in the waste paper bin other than possibly “let’s decide this by committee”. If people actually responded like robots to buzzwords then every viral video would just be people using buzzwords. Video’s go viral because they’re short and have a powerful message like the Ice Bucket challenge unless you’re a cute kitten in which case this rule doesn’t apply. Everyone loves kittens but you’re not going to fill a resume with kitten pictures so leave the buzzwords where they belong and let your resume be brief but powerful.

Networking, Networking, networking- People today suffer from MIOO or Massive Information Overload Online. Requesting someone on LinkedIn, sending an email and follow up cards are important pieces of a job search but ultimately a live human being makes the hiring decision. Do you share a common passion, are in you in a social group or a volunteer group where a manager would know you from and personally vouch for your work ethic?

Learn to use Concrete
- Instead of using Buzzwords create sections in your cover letter that show concrete of examples of skills that will bring value to a potential employer. I tell everyone crafting a cover letter use the following format: cite a transferable skill and then provide a high quality concrete example of the skill from a previous position.

Build real and lasting and relationships, create a cover letter and resume that build excitements and provide concrete examples of high quality work. The new economy has seen a job market that shifts rapidly so get some outside help from a professional head hunter or a human resources professional and learn to move forward with confidence.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

become a medical assistant

One of the most frustrating issues with being a military spouse is finding a career that has national portability that will allow for employment at the next duty station. Finding a degree that leads to employment is a crucial step in planning for the next duty station move.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics the field with the highest growth and one of the top projected incomes over the next decade is medical secretaries. It’s estimated that an American turns 50 every 7 seconds and with a career field growth rate over 35% in the next decade this job offers an exciting entry point into the field of healthcare.

The website Salary.com which uses information based off of people working indicates that the median salary in Albany NY for medical secretaries is$ 34,000. With the growth of healthcare combined with the aging population now is the time to enter the medical field and start a journey towards a successful career.

Another exciting and growing career field that offers a quality entry point into the healthcare world is medical assistants. U.S News and World rates the position as one of the top 100 best jobs based on the projected growth of 29% and the increase of aging adults in the population. Both medical secretaries and medical assistants are needed career fields with tremendous growth over the next ten years.

With the remarkable growth in the jobs has come a wide variety of training and education for the position. Hospitals similar to colleges are accredited and have a wide range of federal, state and local regulations that must be met so employers prefer to hire medical assistants who are certified and have a national certification. This allows the hospital to show accrediting agencies that they have hired the most qualified and competent workers in a time of fast changing regulations and policies.

Colleges such as Bryant and Stratton in Malta NY offer an Associate of Applied Science Degree program that prepares people for a rewarding career as a medical assistant in a private practice, hospital, clinic or government agency. Earning an associate’s degree alongside a national certification opens the doors to more potential income. Some studies have shown that associates degree grads earn more than a half a million dollars more over their lifetime than high school grads and can even out earn people with a bachelor’s degree in certain fields. If your interested in a personalized learning environment that offers flexibility with a combination of online learning and a hands on approach feel free to reach out at http://www.bryantstratton.edu/online/degree-programs/associates/medical-administration

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What is an ePortfolio?

According to Google an ePortfolio is a collection of evidence that shows a learning journey over time. ePortfolio's are still in their infancy and there are many different people and institutions using the word in many different and unique ways. Universities such as Harvard, Clemson and Cornell are using ePortfolio's in a variety of new and exciting ways.

Here's a basic snapshot of the three main components:

1. It's LinkedIn learning blocks for college students. Just as LinkedIn allows job seekers to showcase high quality presentations an ePortfolio is a place where students can store presentations.

2. It's proof of learning outcomes for potential employers, Today's employers expect college graduates to be digital natives and to be able to showcase that knowledge.

3. Its a digital filing cabinet where work can be stored.

4. A shared learning space where reflective and active learning can take place.

Using an ePortfolio allows for modularization and blended learning environments to be safely integrated into the academic learning environment while maintaining quality. With a greater emphasis on outcomes and flexibility at the same time using an eportoflio system allows colleges the freedom to show accreditors how the learning outcomes are being met while still having the flexibility to find new and creative ways to guide students through the learning process.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

3 resume tips for veterans

Employer surveys always come back that employers don’t understand how to convert military experience to fit a civilian job description. The resume is the document that employers use looking to see if someone has both the skills and experience as outlined in the position description. A good resume has simple and easy to read skills and experiences and shows career progression and stability in a way that employers can understand. Simplify the resume so it’s exciting and relevant to your job search and here are three easy tips to help with that process:

1. The job history should not cover every single job held. Employers are looking to see job progression and while every job is important, covering a 20 history line by line is repetitive. Keep each job description short and relevant with concise summaries that show transferable and valuable skills. The average HR person spends 30 seconds a resume so it needs to be clear and concise.

2. The resume objective is an introduction and should help a recruiter see why you’re a great fit for the organization. Rehashing experience listed on a resume is a bad idea. The objective should tell a future employer why they should hire you. If you don’t get excited looking at it then imagine how a recruiter views it after seeing the same line “seeking dynamic employment opportunity to use my skills to their maximum ability.”

3. Acronyms, jargon and military specific abbreviations. While NCOIC is an important job that denotes responsibility in the Army the 99% of employers have no idea that it stands for Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. It’s best to speak the language of civilian employers by converting military experience to terms they can understand such as Supervisor, Leader, Manager of…

Friday, October 24, 2014

Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship

The Department of Veterans Affairs just announced it will begin accepting applications for the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship from surviving spouses of military personnel who die in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Before this change only children of those who died in the line of duty were eligible for this benefit.

The Fry Scholarship will enable eligible spouses up to 36 months of the full Post-9/11 GI Bill which includes a tuition-and-fee payment and monthly housing allowance. Some spouses currently eligible for or already receiving benefits under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program may now be eligible for the Fry Scholarship.

For more information regarding the Fry Scholarship, call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) or go to the VA GI Bill Website: http://gibill.va.gov

Friday, October 3, 2014

how to find a job as a veteran

how to find a job as a veteran
 Two major veteran reports came out this week and both show that veterans are struggling to find jobs, keep jobs and that they need more assistance with transition to the workforce. The first study was done by the respected USC school of Social work that works with veterans found that 80% of veterans leave the military without a job. This trend is particularly disturbing in light of the recently revamped transition process for those people leaving the service.

The second study was by the highly prestigious Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families study found that more than 65% of veterans leave their first civilian job within 2 years and that the jobs don’t match their military skills sets. The combination of these factors is well known in the veteran’s community and while the studies are helpful for policy makers veterans needs help in these critical areas. Here are three takeaways that any veteran can use immediately to help with a job search.

1. Hire a professional.

2. Talk to everybody

3. Be persistent

Hire a professional because everyone looking for a job in today’s tight job market should use a staffing and recruiting professional to review their cover letter and resume. When a pipe bursts in your house you call a plumber because he has the tools and expertise to fix the problem in a reasonable time frame. Well recruiters are the plumbers of the job world because they see a lot of resumes and they know what companies are looking for and what to avoid. A good example is the objective section on a resume. This outdated piece of resume advice almost always states the person wants to work in specific career field instead of showing how the person’s skills can add value to a company. An updated resume is a powerful tool in today’s ultra-competitive job market.

A 2010 survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 70% of jobs are found by networking. Most high quality jobs are found by recommendations and by effectively using a network. Keep a list of the people you have contacted and use Facebook and LinkedIn to contact all your family friends and coworkers and ask everyone for one referral. Sitting at a computer filling out the millionth job application gets tiring but cross referencing the contacts from your LinkedIn network with employers that are likely to hire you is likely to have far better results. Create a rubric for the job search that has the name of the company, how the job lead was found, and who was contacted and add a column for veteran contacts. Maintain the rubric and keep track of which companies you hear back from because this will give an idea of what type of employer is interested in your skill set and you can specifically target this type of employer.

Persistence according to the Oxford dictionaries is “the continued or prolonged existence of something”. I work with a lot of veterans and it’s a common complaint that employers don’t value military service. Here are the links to each local,state and federal agency that directly helps veterans find employment:

Locate and contact the veteran’s rep within the Federal Department of Labor. http://www.servicelocator.org/
Locate and contact State Veteran’s representative. http://www.longtermcarelink.net/ref_list_state_county_veterans_service_officers.htm
Locate and contact county level veteran’s representative. http://nacvso.org/find-a-service-officer/

Most employer surveys show that that they just don’t understand military service because they haven’t served and don’t speak the same language. It’s crucial to meet with the people who are on the front lines helping veterans find and keep jobs such as the county veteran representative, the state veteran’s agency, and the local department of labor veteran’s rep and to stay focused and positive.

Friday, June 28, 2013



1. Situation
a) Enemy Forces
1) Situation- Where is job search taking place? What is the timeframe a job is needed within? What are the requirements for positions? What are my skills?

2) Capabilities. What is the need for employment? Is employment needed immediate or long term? What is the minimum amount of money that is needed for support?

2. Mission, Who, What, When, Why and Where (coordinates).

Mission- To find suitable employment. To create a high quality resume based on missions, training, education and experience. To find suitable employment within allocated time-frame.

3. Execution.
a) Concept of Operation.
1) Create an actionable plan for employment using contacts, rubric, assessments, and education.
2.) Reconnaissance- Take at least 2 career assessments.
These will give an idea of career fields that you may not have thought of. Also the wording in the resume can be tailored based on ads for positions in these career fields.

3.) Conduct a job search using Monster, Indeed, Etc. to determine if there are openings and what the pay is in 3 potential job fields based on the career assessment tests.

4. Service and Support.
a) D.O.L. Locate and contact the veteran’s rep within the Federal Department of Labor. http://www.servicelocator.org/

1) Locate and contact State Veteran’s representative. http://www.longtermcarelink.net/ref_list_state_county_veterans_service_officers.htm

2) Locate and contact county level veteran’s representative. http://nacvso.org/find-a-service-officer/

3) Create a rubric for job search. Must have name of company, how job was found, and who was contacted. Add a column for veteran contact. Maintain rubric with companies contacted.

4) Veterans find jobs through other veterans. Use LinkedIn, Facebook and veterans groups and reach out to others for help. 

5.) Only 1% of the population has served in the military. This means no civilian understands what an NCOIC is or the importance of an ERB. This information must be translated into terms that don’t scare civilians and that they can easily understand. The goal of resume is to get you into the room for an interview.
1) Conduct recon on what a resume looks like. What are the 3 basic types and which best highlights your education and experience.

d) Prepare resume using only civilian terms.
For example:
Army enlisted Paratrooper 2002-2006
Served as a team leader, directing deployment and employment of personnel; supervised maintenance activities; read, interpreted, and collected intelligence information; distributed administrative and training documents; trained subordinate personnel.
-          Served as team leader supervising a 4 man enlisted team and training of a new radio operator.
-           Instrumental in the planning, coordination, and execution of combat operations both in training and while deployed in field
-          Tasked with being the platoon's radio operator in addition to assignment as a rifleman in an infantry platoon
-          Received Good Conduct Medal and Army Commendation Medal for exemplary leadership and management during deployment.

e) Do NOT: include the following on resume
- Extremely high dollar amount of equipment that you were in charge of.
- Acronyms under any circumstances. Spell everything out.
- Exact details about deployment and actions during deployment. 

f.) Hire someone to review your resume and fine tune it for what employers are looking for today and based on your individual goals. Show it to the Service and Support personnel and gather feedback to be incorporated into the resume.

6. Education and Training
 a) Is more education needed for career field?
1) Use GI Bill for College or training. The G.I bill can pay for training for EMT, HVAC Certification, and flight training. Typically the DOL rep will know what other local trainings can be used by the G.I Bill.

2) If rated with VA disability, CALL the VA and make appointment with VOC rehab counselor. Voc Rehab pays for re-training and potentially college.

3) Some states have special college programs for veterans. Conduct research to learn if State will pay for more education. For example Texas has the Hazelwood act http://www.tvc.texas.gov/Hazlewood-Act.aspx and N.Y pays for State college up to a master’s degree for Combat Veterans http://www.hesc.ny.gov/content.nsf/SFC/Veterans_Tuition_Awards

4) Conduct research about state veteran’s benefits at http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-state-benefits

Final note:
If asked about deployment, combat and or actual operations. It’s best to give answer and then re-direct the question back to your skills and why you would be a good fit for the organization.

What did you do in the Army? Did you see a lot of combat?
Answer- In the Army I served as a leader. For example, I was directly responsible for a team of 5 enlisted men. During deployment we executed missions based on our trainings. The military is a great example of how high quality training can provide the skills needed to handle dynamics of operating in an ever-changing environment during a deployment. It showed me the importance of working with others to accomplish the mission and I hope to bring that skill with me to your organization.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

free online college classes

One way to earn free college credits is to use National CCRS (formerly National PONSI) recommendations which are accepted by 1500 colleges and universities across the U.S. Typically these credits will come in as transfer credits so consult your college before attempting to transfer the credits although almost all state colleges take the college recommendations from National CCRS. You can check here to see if your college is on the list of schools accepting the credits : http://www.nationalccrs.org/colleges_universities/cooperating/home.html

The Saylor Foundation has three entry level courses that you can take which have assignments and quizzes for free.

Here are the 3 steps to taking the courses:

Step 1.

   Choose a class:

   •BUS205: Business Law and Ethics
   •BUS210: Corporate Communication
   •POLSC201: Introduction to Western Political Thought
Step 2.

Take the Final Exam
The final exam can be proctored by any certified librarians, military education services officer, embassy  representatives; a local school official, such as a principal, dean, or guidance counselor. Have your representative fill out the proctor form provided by Saylor.

Step 3.

Send your transcript to the college you are attending so they can be added to your academic record. Here is the transcript request form

     There are other ways to earn college credits quickly such as DANTES exams and CLEP exams that are low cost and many corporate trainings have been evaluated for credit by groups such as National CCRS or the American Council on Education (ACE) , colleges and universities have trusted ACE and NCCRS to provide reliable course equivalency information to help their decisions to award academic credit for many decades.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

who gets va health benefits

This week it came to light that the servicemember who killed Bin Laden did not have healthcare coverage and was not transitioning well. The media has noted that he is actually covered by the VA for five years after getting out because he was deployed to combat. This misses the larger point that servicemembers don’t get the needed information about how all the different benefits work together after you get out. A 2010 study showed that less than 20% of veterans are aware of what VA healthcare coverage is available to them (2010, Dept. of VA). It’s no secret that the transition program for servicemembers leaving hasn’t worked for some time and congress has acted by revamping the process but that process is still in the works.

It is astounding that the VA pointed out that the Shooter as the Navy Seal is known has healthcare coverage while ignoring the glaring fact that his VA disability is still pending after 6 months. The VA currently has almost a 900,000 claims pending (VA weekly Reports, 2013) which is larger than the entire number of active duty Army and Navy members (DOD stats, 2013). In the last decade the average time to complete a claim has grown to almost a year long. Veterans are feeling abandoned by the system that every day espouses to return the favor for their service to the nation. The VA frequently points to the fact that claims are more complex therefore it’s the veterans fault for the wait time and this should absolve the VA from working towards fixing the problem.

Meanwhile, while veterans navigate the complex claims process while trying to determine how healthcare is delivered the suicide rate according to a recent VA report (2012) has grown to 18 veterans a DAY. The VA just announced it has taken steps to stem the rising tide of negativity by hiring 1,000 mental health professionals however this is a band aid approach to a pandemic problem. A more comprehensive solution is needed that addresses the needs of the next greatest generation.

Historically, veteran’s benefits have been a patchwork of benefits influenced by politics, lobbying from veterans groups and complex pattern of laws. The initial creation of a veteran’s pension system for benefits in 1782 was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and the next year when a new law was passes it gave the secretary of war the authority to deny pensions and this led to lack of judicial oversight for 197 years until the passing of the Veterans Judicial Review Act of 1988 that created the newest federal court the CAVC to hear veterans claims and provide judicial oversight to the process.

The combination of veteran issues has created the perfect storm for change. Since, the entire country is transitioning to healthcare for all then a natural extension is to automatically enroll all veterans in the VA. This would provide immediate care for all returning veterans regardless of circumstances and it wouldn’t be hard to explain to returning veterans. This would ensure that veterans like the Shooter aren’t waiting for a disability claim to get healthcare.

The disability claims process needs to be reworked until a more equitable solution can be found. Why not start disability payments for all obvious claims such as hearing loss, loss of limb etc. Some partial payment would at least provide a stop gap measure rather than have veterans wait years for a decision on an obvious injury. That way the claims can still go through the complex system and the veteran isn’t left wondering why the country forgot about them.

Immediate passage of the Veterans Job Corps Bill. As a veteran myself who attended a Job Corps program I can attest to the fact that the program gave me some much needed transition time between life in the Army and sitting in a classroom with a room full of 18 year olds. While I applaud Wal-Mart’s veteran hiring spree I can assure you that not every veteran wants to work at Wal-Mart. Many are highly trained in their career field but need the training, time, and transition guidance to readjust to a world that moves at a different pace and a veteran specific Job Corps could provide some much needed assistance.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Five Overlooked Adjustments from Veteran to Student 

Many Veterans think they experience culture shock when they make the transition from military to civilian life, but an even greater transitional shock is the one experienced when Veterans enter college for the first time. The most common advice comes in studying hard and managing your time well, but here are five overlooked adjustments from life as a Veteran to life as an student.

College isn’t just about studying

Many Veterans feel as though they can’t relate to traditional college age students. Relations occur in college just like the service by joining groups and working together as team whether it’s a sports team or an academic team. Friendships are forged on the field just like the service.

There are other Veterans in college

According to the American Council on Education more than 60% of the colleges across the U.S have programs and services specifically for military members and with the advent of the Post-9/11 G.I Bill the numbers of Veterans enrolling in colleges across the country has increased. Many Veteran college students have formed peer groups such as the Student Veterans of America which has more than 500 chapters around the country so Veterans can offer each other camaraderie and support.

It’s a Dual transition

Military members attending college are transitioning to both college life and civilian life. Unlike the structured routine of military life, college life is relatively free flowing with lot of choices. Returning Veterans will find the less structured environment challenging however this can be mitigated by setting up a schedule, joining groups to socialize and setting clear goals.

The mission remains

Just like the service, it’s all about the mission, and this mission is to graduate. Higher education’s dirty little secret is that graduation rates differ across institutions but not everyone gets a degree. Earning a degree is just like earning rank because it takes hard work and discipline and lots of studying. Using the transferable skills that you made you a successful servicemember such as working hard, paying attention and staying on time will help you earn a degree.

Everybody is in transition

College students come in all shapes and sizes and everyone is adjusting to the new routine of college life. Military members have some additional transitional issues which add to the stress such as working and having a family, and it’s okay to reach out to the college community to find a friendly face in the administration to help guide you.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Value of a College Education

Everyone attending college hears the quote “People with a bachelor’s degree earn a million more dollars over their lifetime” but what does this really mean. A recent nationwide analysis of degree data by Zaback & Crellin, (2012) shows that people who receive a bachelor’s make more than 71% than those with a HS diploma. That study also broke down the wage increase by field which is more helpful when considering what to major in. The two highest paying fields are Science/ Technology /Math (STEM) and Health care and this is true for both bachelor’s and associates degrees.

Another common myth is the Bill Gates story that if he doesn’t need college then you don’t either because college costs are rising. While, college cost have risen well over 200% so has the gap in income between those that attend college and those that don’t and the unemployment rate for college grads is significantly lower than those without college. In statistics, we measure things using the bell curve and it’s assumed that 95% of people fall into the same category. Bill Gates does not fall into the 95% of the population. Actually, a study by Wadhwa, Saxenian & Siciliano (2005) showed that of 500 startup companies founded those started by college graduates performed better than those started by someone with a HS diploma. The knowledge that a college education imparts is critical thinking and learning how to structure your thoughts along a proven framework based on hundreds of years of research by scholars and researchers.

Yes, college costs have risen dramatically and this is why researching the right major and school is so critical to transitioning to a college environment. If you’re planning on attending college and unsure of the economic value of a major then a good place to start researching is http://live.sheeo.gotpantheon.com/resources/publications/economic-benefit-postsecondary-degrees

Thursday, December 27, 2012

free college military

One quick way to earn college credits is to use the Army E-learning portal where members of the Army, National Guard, Reservists and Army civilians can earn credits by taking free online courses. There are more than 55 ACE approved courses for college level credit

To register for access, go to AKO at www.us.army.mil > Self Service > My Education > Army e-Learning Portal Page > New User Link

There is no penalty for failing a course test. The course tests can be taken as many times as necessary to pass the test with a 70% or higher.

If you need help registering please click on https://usarmy.skillport.com/skillportfe/custom/usarmy/Army%20e-Learning%20FAQs%20-%20September%202011.pdf

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarships

The Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarships program is sponsored by the National Military Family Association and the scholarships are awarded to spouses of Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve, Retirees, and Survivors. The application window is open from Dec 1- to Jan 31st.The scholarship can be used for tuition, fees, and room and board for any of the following programs:

 GED or ESL  Vocational training  Professional certification  Post-secondary  Graduate school  In-class or on-line  Full-time or part-time

The program opens for enrollment for 2013 on December 1st and enrollment will be open until January 31st. The scholarship is only for a year and must be reapplied for each following year.

To apply please click on https://militaryfamily.scholarships.ngwebsolutions.com/CMXAdmin/Cmx_Content.aspx?cpId=561

References: http://www.militaryfamily.org/ http://www.militaryfamily.org/our-programs/military-spouse-scholarships/scholarship-instructions.html


Monday, December 17, 2012

Scholarships for Military Children Program

The Defense Commissary Agency business partners and others are in the 12th year of awarding scholarships and in 2012 more than 600 scholarships were awarded for a total of a million dollars.

Only dependent unmarried children under age 23 of active duty personnel, reserve/guard and retired military members, or survivors of service members who died while on active duty or survivors of individuals who died while receiving retired pay from the military, may apply for a scholarship.

Recipient must be enrolled or planning to enroll full-time in a four-year undergraduate college or university or students attending a community college must be enrolled in a program of studies designed to allow the student to transfer directly into a four-year program accredited in the U. S. They must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 basis. The minimum GPA requirement applies to both high school and college students.

The scholarship provides for payment of tuition, books, lab fees and other related expenses For more information please see: http://www.militaryscholar.org/sfmc/application.html

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Is a certificate program worth it?

The National Center for Education Statistics shows that the growth of higher education in many sectors is slowing down yet the growth of college level certificates has risen dramatically over the last decade. Many cite the need of skilled workers in fields where the knowledge base is changing rapidly such as technology and healthcare.

Research shows that certificates can have a lot of value both academically and economically. For example, research by The Georgetown University Center on the Education and the Workforce shows that workers can earn over a quarter million more dollars over their lifetime by earning a certificate and 20% more than workers with only a high school diploma(1). Recently the State of Virginia released the earnings of the state’s public college graduates and the data showed that those with post-baccalaureate certificates actually earned more than those a master’s degree (2).

The value of a certificate much like a 4 year degree still requires a detailed analysis because it’s dependent on the need of employers. Some fields like Paralegals have a gold standard such as the American Bar Association Accreditation however in many career fields there’s no clear standard. Some fields such as healthcare have more certificates than there are job titles and conversely the return on investment is less than a more technical field such as Aviation or engineering(1). The key is to look long term at both investment and academic goals. Research shows that completing a certificate can enhance thier chances of completing a college degree because it acts a stepping stone towards completion and enhances earning power even if the college degree isn’t finished.

Name recognition plays a powerful role and high quality colleges offer a variety of certificate options. Cornell offers over 20 certificates online through their program at http://www.ecornell.com and Harvard University offers online certificates through their extension studies school that may count towards a degree later at http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates. Public universities are just starting to get into the awarding of certificates which has traditionally been frowned upon by academia. Some public colleges that are leaders in distance education such as SUNY Empire State College are offering an ever increasing variety of certificates at http://www.esc.edu/degrees-programs/graduate-certificates/veterans-services/ .

1. http://cew.georgetown.edu/certificates/

2. http://research.schev.edu/eom/opportunity01_report.asp

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

filing a va claim

One bad jump out of the plane as a paratrooper and it changed my life. I was out of the service when I started having some medical issues and my doctor noted the trauma to my spine and then the doctor suggested that I file a VA claim.

I didn’t want to file a disability claim because I was leery of the process and the VA administration. Once I learned it’s important to file a claim so the VA has a record of injuries and how they relate to trauma from military service I decided to file.

I was very aware from the news of the extended wait time for claims so I did some research by asking other veterans how to file a claim. What I learned is that only people recognized by the VA should be helping you to file a claim because the VA accredits people to help you with your claim. There are three types of people who the VA accredits; accredited attorneys, claims agents, and veteran Service organizations.

There are over 90 VA accredited veteran service organizations such as the VFW and the American Legion which have accredited representatives to help. Many states also have veterans departments with VA accredited representatives. I met with a VA accredited state veteran’s counselor and the process was explained clearly and concisely which took away a lot of the uncertainty surrounding the process. The counselor laid out the process and described how the development of a claim works. Understanding the process was a key to alleviating a lot of the stress surrounding filing a claim.

Be sure to check confirm that if someone is helping with your claim that they are accredited by the VA to do so. The website has a search function where you can check at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp. While the process was by no means quick I had peace of mind because I had a better understanding of how it worked and I knew that my counselor was accredited through the VA.

Kevin K. Dean is the Veterans Certificate Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Veterans' Services at SUNY Empire State College.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012



A remarkably well written book that explores war and trauma and gives insight into PTSD and Suicide.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Female Veteran Scholarships

The Jewish Foundation for Education of Women has awarded a $20,000 grant to the Empire State College Foundation for the purpose of providing financial support to four female veterans, or female family members of veterans, who are pursuing an advanced certificate in veterans’ services at the college through the School for Graduate Studies.

State University of New York, (SUNY), Empire State College (ESC), is offering a new Program for those that want to work with Veterans. Please go to following link for detailed information: http://www.esc.edu/degrees-programs/graduate-certificates/veterans-services/

To be eligible for the grant, students will either need to qualify as veterans for benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill, or else be the family member of a qualified veteran, as specified by the respective bills; live in the New York City metropolitan area, including Long Island; be enrolled in the veterans’ services certificate program; and have demonstrated financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student.

For more information about the veterans certificate program please contact Chuck.VanVorst@esc.edu

Thursday, April 26, 2012

how to study for online classes

Learning takes places in many ways and occurs in a lot of different shapes. Typically, online course designers and educators are trying to guide students through reflective learning to understand certain tasks and concepts. Most of the courses have weekly discussions and a weekly assignment and follow this format throughout the length of the course term. It would seem like this format would create a higher pass rate for online learning yet consistently evidence shows that online learners fail at a higher rate than those sitting in a classroom. Traditional schools typically point to this as evidence that the courses aren’t rigorous although the research suggests it’s about the same if not harder. So why the dismal pass rate? Like most things people use statistics to examine, the picture is much broader than just a pass/fail ratio. The Department of Education defines a non-traditional student as one who meets some of the following characteristics; working, married, has children, and over the age of 25. With these types of commitments the average online student doesn’t have the time that a traditional age student does to work on the assignments.
Studies show that people only have a limited amount of cognitive energy each day. Each person can only do so much each day. Research indicates that people don’t actually multi-task that they actually get worse at every project the more they do during the day because they are draining their cognitive batteries which need to be recharged.
William Deresiewicz in a lecture at West point noted that solitude is needed to actually think about a topic. To be able to turn of email and Facebook which is slowing sucking away at your cognitive batteries and to read and reflect on a topic.
Lets take Mr. Deresiewicz’s argument one step further and assume that people should also use their existing strengths to learn. Every time I hear someone say “I’m not a strong test taker” I cringe because my next questions are “Did you use flashcards? Did you outline the text? Did your spouse quiz use about what in the book? Did you search for more information about the topic?”
The point is that with a limited amount of cognitive energy in a busy world with an understanding that doing more is not doing better, did you take the time to organize a cohesive plan of attack that legitimately gives you enough space/time/energy to learn?
In order to develop a plan attack I ask student to reflect on how they achieved a past success academically albeit how small or large the success because those tools can be replicated for future success. The classic example is the infantry man who signs up for an online class and shortly fails out. They always tell me that they don’t have the time and couldn’t understand the material yet when I ask them the maximum effective range of each and every weapon system in their platoon they recite it as if they born knowing the information. Success in the learning the weapons system took time, dedication and an understanding that learning that information was important. This same dedication can be used to conquer any online program. Students should reflect about what learning strategies they used in the past and modify that system to be successful in the classroom.
It may seem obvious but students who take the time to read the book, make flashcards and carve out enough quiet time to read actually pass their courses. Educators refer to the process as self-regulation and it creates a self-fulfilling loop for the students. The key is getting students to understand their own learning methods and giving them permission to quietly read and reflect.