Tag Archive | "APU"

Picking Your Professor: When You Should Branch Out

picking-professorsBy Dr. Randall Cuthbert
Associate Professor, Emergency & Disaster Management at American Public University

A student reminded me recently that she had taken eight of her 12 master’s courses from me. Although it’s flattering when a student does that, it’s really not a good idea for a couple of reasons.

First, if a student took every course from me, at the end of the program they would know less than I do—there’s no way to put everything I know about any subject into a classroom. I’m not bragging, that’s just transmission loss—an unavoidable feature of communication.

However, taking courses from as wide a variety of instructors as possible brings the knowledge from each into your knowledge base. The wisdom becomes uniquely your own and is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s a successful use of instructor resources.

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What is the Value of a College Education to Working Adults?

working-adult-college-studentBy Guy Williams
Alumnus at American Public University

What is the value of a college education, especially to working adults? I asked myself this question several times and heard the same question echoed by my peers, students, faculty members, politicians, newscasters, and several prospective employers.

Then there are deeper questions around topics such as whether there is a way to quantify the value of a college education or whether traditional brick and mortar school degrees carry more weight than online schools. While the list of questions appears endless, I believe a few truisms exist about college degrees earned at any age.

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U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Armed Forces: A Shared History

US-Constitution-OLT_webBy Ronald C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Faculty Member, Management at American Public University

The role of the Constitution of the United States parallels closely the genesis of the Armed Forces. General George Washington, who went on to become our nation’s first President, was a proponent of a life of military service; he and the other founders ensured the Constitution reflected the principles of military service.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution provides Congress authority to raise and support Armies and to provide and maintain a Navy.  The U.S. Constitution continues to shape the conduct of the branches of the armed forces. This can be seen today through the lens of the oath of office taken by service members when they join the military.

The Oath of Office

The first oath of office took place June 1, 1789. There are two oaths: one for officers and the other for enlisted personnel. Keskel (2002) tallies 19 legislative actions affecting the oath: 11 for the officer oath, three that address the enlisted oath, and five that address both.

The current officer oath of office has been unchanged since July 11, 1868 and the enlisted oath is unchanged since October 5, 1962. It really is amazing how resilient this oath has been and how little it has changed since its inception.

U.S. Military Core Values and the Oath of Office

The tenets of the oath of office are well-matched with the core values of our armed forces. Keskel (2002) provides information on how the oath of office supports the core values of each branch the armed forces. The opening phrase, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic relates to the Air Force core value “service before self”; the Navy and Marine Corps core value “courage”; and the Army’s “selfless service, personal courage and loyalty.”

This sets the stage for what is to follow: I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. This correlates with the core values of honor and integrity in all we do. I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, is similar to the Air Force core value of “integrity first,” “honor” for the Navy and Marines, and “integrity” for the Army.

The concluding phrase I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter conveys support for the Air Force core value of “excellence in all we do”; Navy and Marine Corps “commitment”; and the Army core value of duty and respect (p. 9).

What Today’s Troops Have to Say

One of the privileges of being a professor at APU is the daily interactions in the classroom with military students. I live and work near Ramstein Air Base in Germany, which has the largest concentration of Americans living overseas.

Recently, I was in an on-base café with a group of 15 Marines, airmen, and soldiers on their way home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. After we chatted for a while and I thanked them for their service, the discussion turned to Constitution Day and the oath of office.

Each member of the unit remembered clearly the first time they came in contact with the oath of office. Some recalled it as an awesome experience they will never forget. A Marine stated that he “felt like I was becoming part of something much bigger than me.” Finally, an airman could only remember that his hand was shaking while reciting the oath.

Discussion turned to how the core values of each of the services came into play with their duty. One senior service member said that it represented, “committing myself to a lifestyle where lawful orders can get me through dangerous duty.”

Another declared how leaders set the example, both good and bad – and that establishing trust is important when considering core values. A Marine agreed: “Nice words and bumper stickers do not mean a thing without leaders leading in an exemplary manner.”

Others said the oath is a good framework for guiding behavior, as well as a gateway to the core values. In the words of a young enlisted Marine, “In a combat zone we are thinking about why we are there and our core values keep us grounded.”

This discussion made me feel proud of the service members who have served, both yesterday and today. It made me proud that we live in a country where a document such as the United States Constitution can still be relevant after all these years.

The U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Armed Forces have quite a shared history – one that is still going strong and one that bodes well for the future.


Keskel, K. (2002). The Oath of Office: A historical guide to moral leadership. Air & Space Power Journal, 16(4), 47.

This article originally appeared on our fellow APUS blog, InMilitaryEducation.com.

About the Author
Ronald Johnson is an Associate Professor for the School of Business at American Public University. He is retired from the United States Air Force, and has been a professor at APU since 2007. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma and conducts research in the areas of Corporate Social Responsibility and mobile learning.

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Social Engagement Options for the Online Learner


AMU mascot, Valor (left) and APU mascot, Jake (right).

Vlog with Cindy Aitken
Senior Manager, Community Engagement at American Public University

Balancing your lifelong goals with your work and family responsibilities means exploring every possibility, and online education provides an ideal solution for thousands of working adults worldwide. And while you’re using your computer or mobile device to interact daily in the virtual classroom, the fact is, the online learning model and feeling like you’re part of a tangible community aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, when you join a quality online university, you become a part of a community of learners that may include your professor down the street to a classmate on the other side of the world.

At APU and AMU, there are a number of programs designed to keep students connected and engaged with their university community. In this vlog, Cindy shares her insights on the community events at the university, the Ambassador Program, university social channels, and she talks about school spirit in the online environment.

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Options for Student Loan Debt Relief

debt-relief-collegeBy Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

There are many companies out there that will contact students with student loan debt promising to help them reduce their monthly payments or cancel loans all together. While these offers seem enticing, using an outside company to assist you with debt relief is not the wisest decision. First, some of these companies could be scams. They may just be after your personal identification information (PII), such as Social Security number, birth date, and full name, or they may be legitimate, but will charge you for these services.

The best option for someone struggling to pay back his or her student loans is to contact the Department of Education or go directly to the loan servicer. According to the U.S. Department of Education (2015), they provide free assistance to students to help lower or cap monthly loan payments, consolidate federal loans, see if you qualify for loan forgiveness, and get advice on getting out of default. Contrary to popular belief, loan servicers and Department of Education representatives will do everything in their power to help you pay back your loans in a way that is easier for a struggling student.

There are some legitimate companies that provide debt relief assistance for free. American Public University works with ECMC Solutions to aid students who have fallen into delinquency. If you are currently an APU student (or former student) and are struggling with loan repayment, please take advantage of ECMC by contacting them.

Remember, missing payments on your student loans have serious financial consequences. There is free help out there for students who are struggling with their loan debt. Instead of responding to a too-good-to-be-true email or letter from a debt relief company, contact your loan servicer, the Department of Education, or a trusted company such as ECMC to help you get your student loan debt under control.

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Suggestions for Success: What to Know Before You Begin Your Program

success-tips-online-learnersBy Melanie Dougherty
Academic Advisor at American Public University

Congratulations! You’ve taken a big step in starting your education. Whether you’re pursuing an associate, bachelor’s, or a master’s degree, I want to tell you what an exciting journey you have ahead of you. Are you scratching your head wondering where to begin? Well, don’t! Here are some suggestions for starting out in your degree program.

First, you need to invest in yourself. As you prepare to embark on this new journey, be prepared to encounter new ideas and new challenges. Take this time to discover new passions, to learn more about yourself, and to prepare for a future doing something that you love. Don’t jump into this program without knowing what you want to get out of it! You should write down some small goals that you want to achieve at different points in your program and in your life. Seeing these goals written out can remind you of how to invest in yourself both academically and personally.

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The Value of an Argument in Writing

thesis-statement-argumentative-essay-tipsDr. Stacey Little
Program Director, Transportation and Logistics Management at American Public University

After being assigned several argumentative essays, you may have determined that this type of writing is a skill that’s hard to acquire. According to the Roane State Community College online writing lab, most people forget that the goal of the argumentative essay is to “win” the argument. With that thought in mind, it is suggested to avoid writing about issues that you won’t win, regardless of how strongly the writers view is of this topic. An argumentative paper has value to the learning process. It allows the student to learn, grow, and think critically about a subject. Let’s examine the parts of an argumentative paper.

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How to Personalize Your Online Learning Time

personalizing-online-learning-experienceBy J. Mason
Online Learning Tips Editor

Being an online learner doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time learning alone. There are a few ways to insert peer interaction into your studies. For some it’s as simple as finding a public wifi spot so you can work with the buzz of people around you. Other students need a real-time connection to other students. This way you get the collegiate experience even when you can’t see all the other people learning around you.

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