A May 10, 2011 opinion piece in The Battle Creek Inquirer reports that the military is limiting recruits from online colleges. The piece goes on to argue that this is a mistake, for with "technology playing a major -- and growing -- role in national defense" the U.S. military should welcome young people trained in the latest computer expertise.
But the armed forces still has a policy of limiting the number of applicants with "non-traditional diplomas" to 10 percent of its total recruits. This 10 percent, the opinion piece reports, includes people who have been home-schooled, who have their General Education Development certificate, or who have received diplomas from online schools.
What the military overlooks, however, is that many nontraditional schools cater to gifted students, who might have not been challenged by more traditional academic curricula. Because they want to excel, these students take advantage of online courses to increase their knowledge.
It seems unfair that these inquisitive students should be barred from entering the military. Plus, it's poor policy. The article reports that a great many students attend virtual schools. In 2009-2010 for instance, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools estimated that more than 168,000 students attended such institutions. With that number rising steadily, the interest in virtual schooling shows no sign of abating.
Distance learning is the wave of the future. To ignore this fact is to allow talent to lie fallow. A military that's second-to-none recently eliminated the U.S.'s arch-foe Osama Bin Laden. Don't we want this military to maintain its high level of effectiveness? If we do, we should let a thousand proverbial flowers bloom. Talent, like gold, is where you find it. The military shouldn't allow itself to be blinkered by its over-reliance on established milieus of educational development.