CLEP-tomaniac Airman ‘steals’ education
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- There are many ways Airmen can stand out above their peers and display excellence in all they do. Airman 1st Class Stefan Isaza, 35th Maintenance Squadron egress technician, chose to improve himself through a unique education shortcut.
Using the opportunities the Air Force has provided him, Isaza made a plan to get his Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degree primarily by using the College Level Exam Programs (CLEP) and Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) exams.
A CLEP consists of a series of examinations that test an individual's college level knowledge gained through course work, independent study, cultural pursuits, travel, special interests, military service schools, and professional development. CLEP General and Subject examinations are accepted for credit by more than 2,900 colleges and universities.
In the span of three months, Isaza took one to two CLEPs per week. Managing to complete a total of 11 CLEPs and DANTES, he surpassed many others in his position by sticking with a routine.
"My shop chief and supervisor were the ones who really encouraged me to do the CLEPs to get my CCAF," said Isaza. "Taking CLEPs brought me insanely close to this goal and now I'm just one class away."
After taking a couple CLEPs, Isaza came to realize how simple it became for him.
"Taking a CLEP is easy. You sign up for it online, schedule your test and take it," said Isaza. "The CLEPs set you up for success. Before you know it, you will just be a few credits away from getting your CCAF. It just blew my mind that I could get credits by taking a test."
Nearly accomplishing his goal, Isaza had only one CLEP left to take but unfortunately did not pass. After failing his Principles of Public Speaking CLEP, he found out he had to two choices, pay to try the CLEP again or take a class.
"I did have a 'hiccup' during my oral communication CLEP," said Isaza. "It's kind of a running joke in my shop that the one CLEP that I failed was public speaking even though I never seem to stop talking here in the shop. I'll be taking a class this summer thanks to tuition assistance."
With all the career building tools provided to Isaza along with his prior knowledge, he managed to do in a few months what some people take a year or more to accomplish.
"The thing I like about the CLEPs is that the results are instant and there are no grades. It's either you pass or you fail," said Isaza. "I feel the CLEPs are designed to test you based on what you already know. If you think you need to study up on a subject, you should probably just take the class instead."
The CCAF concept evolved in the early 1970s as a means of gaining accreditation and recognition for Air Force training. More than a million transcripts have been issued in the last 10 years, and each year CCAF students earn more than 1.6 million hours of college credit.
"It is important for me to get my CCAF to prove to myself and others what I am capable of," Isaza added. "I had to keep myself motivated and goal oriented so I did not let any potential I may have go to waste. And in July once I finish my class and have it then it's time to set a new goal."
With his CCAF within reach, Isaza makes plans for his future career in the military with his newfound opportunities.
"I've been thinking about possibly going to the Air Force academy," said Isaza. "The academy has a program for enlisted with a requirement of being younger than 23. I just turned 20 this year so I still have a few years to decide."
Proud of what he has accomplished, Isaza can't help but be thankful for the opportunities the Air Force has given him.
"The Air Force makes education improvement easy and convenient especially for lower ranking Airmen like me," said Isaza. "You might as well start as early as possible, and if you have a work center that supports you reaching your goal; I don't understand what would stop you from doing it."
For more information about CLEP, CCAF and more contact the Education Office at 226-4201.
(Information about CCAF, CLEP and DANTES were provided by www.au.af.mil and www.dantes.doded.mil )