Ryan Jordan – Laying Low to Flying High

Have you ever realized you are wasting time and money? For me, this moment came in January of 2020. Actually, the day was January 21, 2020. I was working in the “box,” better known as the Fuels Service Center. The place where all United States Air Force Fuels Operations pass through. I had been in the Air Force for eight years, 11 months, and 21 days. If you have been in the military, you know the underlying mission is “education, education, education.” I joined the Air Force for education benefits and to travel the world.

Well, I sat in my chair staring at the computer screen, unhappy, unsatisfied. I went and looked at my college transcripts in my record. The first thing I looked at was my first college course. I failed it. Embarrassed, I did not want to keep looking. This course, an introductory course in Statistics, had been holding me back for the last 6 years and some pocket change. I scrolled down further and, low and behold, I only needed 17 credits for my Community College of the Air Force, Associates in Applied Science. I said, “Wow, only 17 credits? I could do that in my sleep.” The wheels started turning.

So, I got to work, looked at the options available to me, and had (pre-COVID) three months left on my deployment. I made some jokes to coworkers. I told them it was easy to knock this out before we went home.

They thought I was just joking, but I had made up my mind I would do this. The biggest reason my fellow airmen all thought I was messing around is that, before this moment, I said, ”college was dumb, college is a waste of time, you don’t need it.”

I looked at all the resources available to me, there are a lot. The most massive thing I saw, $37,650 had been wasted. I applied to university, got accepted (thankfully, someone took a chance). I started my first class, College Algebra. My fiancée helped me through the course; she has been my biggest supporter. I got my first “A,” a 4.0, WOW!

Next thing I know, I took a CLEP and a DSST—two kinds of college-level equivalent tests for credits. WOW! I had six credits, and only 11 credits left for my C.C.A.F. AAS.

I finished my AAS before the three months finishing 18 credits. I am still on this deployment, but I have now completed 36 credits since January 21, 2020, and will finish my bachelor’s degree from a private university I have wanted to go to for a long time. I met my mentor and am looking at potentially transitioning from the military. I say all of this with such optimism because when I was looking at my transcript; I was disappointed in myself; I had let my parents and myself down, and I had wasted thousands of dollars. Now though, I have finally #failforward.

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