Higher education ‘virtually’ possible in Kaiserslautern

Story and photo by Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Getting that college degree may plague many New Year’s resolutions year after year with some people feeling too confused or overwhelmed to even start classes.

The U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern has a virtual hub of educational counselors to help Soldiers, civilians and Department of Army civilians pursue their college careers.
“We have these really neat computer systems where we are able to talk and see a person via a Web cam,” said Ramona Kausch, the garrison’s educational services officer.

Ms. Kausch is not only responsible for the four U.S. Army education centers, but also those in Heidelberg, Mannheim, Darmstadt and Royal Air Force stations in Menwith Hill and Alconbury, England. With the exception of the England sites, these stations make up the KMC educational hub.

This virtual education computer system is made up of “Soldiers’ machines,” as Ms. Kausch calls them, for all eligible clients to connect with counselors via “a counselor machine” − either in their community or KMC hub or, if needed, other educational hubs in Europe.

All of these sites in the KMC hub have at least one counselor machine and most (especially those that do not have a full-time counselor assigned) have a Soldiers’ machine. Exceptions are the sites on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Darmstadt, where full-time counselors can assist customers.

The beauty of these machines is that, if needed, counselors can take control of clients’ computers to assist in filling out forms, said Ms. Kausch.

Facility administrators will help customers get set up on the Soldiers’ computers and provide them with a list of phone numbers for counselors in the KMC hub. If the first number dialed is busy, the system will automatically dial the next number on the KMC hub. If all numbers in the KMC hub are busy, the system then jumps to the next hub in Europe.

“Clients will be able to get the assistance they need,” said Ms. Kausch.
Whether virtual or personal, counselors can provide information to those pursuing higher education, anywhere from filling out necessary forms to deciding what classes to take, said Ms. Kausch. This also includes helping Soldiers operate the GoArmyEd computer portal that they must use for tuition assistance.

Depending on the individual case, most initial counseling meetings take about 20 minutes. What to bring to the meeting is also dependent on the individual case. Soldiers, for example, should bring their Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System, which lists their military education and training that may translate to college credit hours. Those who have taken some college courses should bring those transcripts with them too.

This information helps the counselor advise their clients on what courses to take, said Ms. Kausch.

For more information, call the Rhine Ordnance Barracks education center at 493-2588 or 0631-3406-2592.

(Editor’s Note:  This is the third of a three-part series on how the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern can help community members stick to their New Year’s resolutions.)