April 20, 2011 | Brooke Brown | 1 Comment Sergeant Staggs earns his degree online while deployed in Afghanistan. Members of the United States Air Force are usually deployed for six months, then home for six months at a time. During those months at home, family togetherness is treasured even more than the average, non-military family. The last thing most air force members desire is to spend a day at work followed with a night of school classes and homework. So for undergraduates like Sergeant Daniel Staggs of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, online colleges like Ashford University offer the perfect solution, making school something to be done in between family time at home. “As an active officer in the air force, I needed the flexibility and convenience that Ashford University provided,” Staggs said. For Sergeant Staggs, education isn’t something he wanted to drag out for decades — but that may have been his only option if he hadn’t found a school like Ashford University, which allowed him to study in times at home and during deployment. During time serving abroad in Afghanistan, Staggs found online schooling to be just the right fit for his unpredictable schedule. Slow Internet speeds and impromptu military ventures that left him without access to a computer for days at a time had the potential to hinder his learning process, participation in class discussion and his overall grade point average. But, with a little extra planning and effort, Staggs made it work. By receiving the syllabus and class due dates at the beginning of the semester, the air force officer was able to design his own schedule, getting school work done before leaving on a mission and giving his teachers and classmates plenty of notice. Staggs said his teachers were always flexible about his situation and would allow him to respond to class message boards as soon as he returned to his air force base camp. “It was comforting to know that whenever I would pick up and deploy, I didn’t have to start over,” Staggs said. “Even if I had to take off a couple of weeks when being relocated, I was able to stay on track, I was going to the same school, and I was getting a good education.” Before joining the military, Sergeant Staggs lived the life of a traditional college student, spending two years at Cincinnati Christian University, where he played basketball and majored in history. In comparison to his experience at a traditional university, the quality of education at Ashford university is equal, if not better, Staggs said. He noted the life skills online higher education has helped him develop, including discipline, planning and time management. Because, even more than with traditional college schooling, online classes force students to manage their schedule and plan ahead, with procrastination being the downfall of a successful education. Graduating in December 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in social and criminal justice, Staggs said taking online college classes while deployed in Afghanistan was not only doable, but enhanced his experience in the military. “Now I understand my job a little differently and make more valid reasoning in my decision-making process,” Staggs said. With a dream of teaching counter-terrorism courses at a college level after retirement from the military, Staggs said his experience in the air force coupled with his education from Ashford Unversity will prove to be invaluable. “I want to teach people from life experience, but also understand academically what I am doing in the battlefield,” Staggs said. Despite the seemingly hectic life of managing a military schedule and earning a college degree simultaneously, Staggs urges his fellow military men to follow suit, particularly recommending using an online resource to achieve such a feat. “(Earning your degree) helps you broaden your scope and makes you more open-minded to what’s going on in the world,” Staggs said. Even with the flexibility of an online schedule available, many members of the military might say they don’t have time to earn a degree, but Staggs, a husband and father of three children, said he just puts his priorities in order and makes it happen. “Using online schooling, I was able to go to work, come home, coach my daughter’s soccer team, eat dinner with the family and then put in a few hours of homework every night,” Staggs said. “I might get five or six hours of sleep instead of eight, but I get to do my school work and spend quality time with my family.” And for Sergeant Staggs, that kind of deal is priceless.