For today's soldiers, college is a mouse click away

When Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Varner's workday ended he went to college, taking classes in religion, math, environmental science and persuasive writing.

But Varner never set foot on campus. Instead, he turned on his laptop computer and connected to the Internet from a military base in Afghanistan.

Taking advantage of the Army's online education program, Varner is just one of thousands of soldiers who have pursued degrees while serving in combat zones and bases around the world.

After just three years, the program called GoArmyEd now serves 96,000 troops enrolled in some 200,000 courses taught by 145 accredited colleges and universities, including the University of South Carolina and Midlands Technical College.

"Our students today are virtual," said Shirley O’Neal, education director at Columbia’s Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest basic combat training center.

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