Rural Recruits: College and Careers Available

Even in a remote rural community like Altus, Okla., there are clear connections between education and the economy.

Pilot Javier Orama

Captain Javier Orama

During a recent visit to the Air Education and Training Command at Altus Air Force Base, I was reminded of a question I hear occasionally: “Why should rural students go to college when there aren’t many jobs in their communities?” I often wonder how different these communities would be if more youth and adults pursued college and other postsecondary career training opportunities.

Nationally, rural students are less likely to go to college than their peers from urban and suburban areas. At the same time, many rural communities need skilled workers more than ever to fill existing jobs, to attract new employers, and to cultivate entrepreneurship as a means for reinventing their local economies.

Even rural youth considering joining the military will need to continue their education beyond high school.

Altus AFB prepares military personnel for a variety of careers. The Air Education and Training Command provides classroom instruction complemented by computer-based training, and individual tutoring for Airmen in a variety of fields. The base even developed a “grow-your-own” mechanics program.

After climbing inside the enormous C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft during my visit, Captain Javier Orama emphasized the demand for math and technology skills in today’s Air Force.

“The C-17 is a flying computer. In fact, it’s many different computers,” he said.

Captain Orama is a pilot and an instructor for pilots training to fly the C-17 on airlift and refueling missions. The C-17 is a flexible, high-tech aircraft that can refuel in-flight and continue its mission indefinitely. If you dream of flying like Captain Orama, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. Officers are generally required to be college or university graduates. College and career-level training is also a prerequisite for loadmasters and mechanics supporting the C-17 missions.

More U.S. military personnel come from rural areas than any other parts of our nation. And like private industry, the armed services are also looking for a highly skilled workforce.

Rural young people and adults need access and encouragement to pursue postsecondary education and training programs to lift up their families and communities, and our nation needs them to aim high.

John White is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach

5 Comments

  1. I live in Australia and we had schooling by radio way back for the kids in the remote areas of Australia. I guess today it is so much easier with the technology and computers. Plus people with heavy work commitments can also study online in their own time
    Enjoyed reading this report.
    Thank you
    Lindy

  2. Nationally, rural students are less likely to go to college than their peers from urban and suburban areas. At the same time, many rural communities need skilled workers more than ever to fill existing jobs, to attract new employers, and to cultivate entrepreneurship as a means for reinventing their local economies.

  3. Why is the department of education recruiting for the military?

    You say that you are telling rural students to go to college, but spend a majority of this entry touting the merits of the Air Force. Subsequently, you say that:
    “our nation needs them to aim high.”

    Seriously? That can’t be a mistake. STOP IT. The department of education exists to EDUCATE. Not RECRUIT.

    S T O P

    • Please re-read the article. Within the context of education, the articles used the topic of the C-17 and the airforce as a springboard to encourage post-secondary education. In fact, for those considering the military, the article explains that post-secondary education is required for particular jobs. The Department of Education merely used the airforce or military as an example of the need for higher education.. They were not attempting to advertise or recruite..Please re-read..

      • My question becomes – have you ever been to a small (less than 300 students) high school’s recruitment fairs? When I went to high school, there were four booths – the local community college, Air Force, Navy and Army.

        What’s wrong with that picture? It’s not that they are actively recruiting for the Air Force – BUT, they are recruiting AT ALL. On the Department of Education page. Those two entities should never, I repeat, never, mix. The DOD should never be allowed to have a presence on this page. Perhaps I’m too much of a pacifist.

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