Chris Padgett had read reports of private colleges preying on active military members through online programs, which receive money via the GI Bill, so the longtime soldier in the California Army National Guard enrolled in World Campus in 2017 with skepticism. “Once I started at Penn State,” he says, “it completely changed my mind.”
Padgett ’18 MEd Edu earned a master’s degree in lifelong learning and adult education through a scholarship from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program, a partnership between the Army and World Campus that launched in 2015 and prepares sergeant majors to teach at the academy.
Padgett hadn’t been in an online or residential classroom since receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1999. “I didn’t know what to expect,” he says. His confidence improved when Greg Bond, director of military education for World Campus, visited Padgett and other officers at Fort Bliss, Texas, and gave a seminar about the program. Upon graduating, Padgett taught soldiers for two years; he says his master’s curriculum prepared him to better manage expectations and understand the variance of cultures and lifestyles he saw as an instructor.
Roughly 16% of World Campus students in 2022–23 had a military tie. Padgett says the accessibility of online learning holds appeal for military personnel, but it was the support he received from faculty and staff that left the greatest impression. “It was a comfort to know Penn State was there to help us and assist us,” he says.