One of the most frequent questions that education officers are asked is ‘what qualifications can I receive for my X years of service?’ Often the answer is disappointing, as frequently the qualifications awarded fall below expectations. By the time this question is asked, it is often too late to take meaningful in-service action to change the outcome. However, if you plan ahead, you will be better positioned to transform your future through study.
Why should you put in the effort to study outside of the minimum job requirement? And, why is it important? Here are three reasons why you should consider committing to further study:
To provide wider capability for Army. While you are still in service, further education:
- makes you more attractive and competitive for promotion.
- develops a diverse skill set, such as the ability to research and synthesise information, communicate and network and practice computer literacy.
- develops your subject matter expertise.
To develop mental elasticity. Throughout your life, further education:
- engages your mind as you continue to learn new skills and knowledge.
- ensures that you are continually challenged and earns you academic success.
- gives you practice in academic discipline, productivity and methods in overcoming procrastination.
- develops a pattern of life-long learning.
- develops your ability to think critically, appreciate nuance, and form a balanced argument and a supported point of view.
To invest in your future. When you are thinking of leaving the service, further education:
- assists in creating wider networks that can be vital on transition from the ADF.
- provides an element of security for a potential career transition.
Study of a profession-based (or vocational) qualification can be very useful when you are looking for a new career in a chosen field, such as completing a Bachelor of Nursing to pursue a career as a nurse. Alternatively, a non-specific qualified candidate (for example, an individual with a generic qualification such as a Bachelor of Arts) will still increase their chance of consideration when competing with non-qualified candidates.
Committing to study may require making small compromises to achieve your goals, such as limiting some hobbies, sleep or social life for a time. However, consider whether incorporating study into your lifestyle for a finite period of time is worth the sacrifice, especially when the investment is your future. Remember, rarely is anyone naturally disciplined to study when there are so many alternatives. Even that eternal 'studier' you might know who is ‘good’ at it has to go the extra mile and be disciplined.
Avoid finding yourself in an uncomfortable position toward the end of your career, give yourself options and engage in further study. You do not have to be ‘smart,’ just persistent and committed.
Army has numerous Education Assistance Schemes that are available to support your goals. Policy is geared to encourage engagement, and importantly advancement. Contact your local education officer if you would like to investigate your options of Defence Assisted Study.
About the authors: This article was produced by a team of dedicated educators from the Education Wing at the Land Warfare Centre. Contact Education Wing via the (DPN) Defence Protected Network for individual and unit education support.