Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series with tips on completing Air Force enlisted professional military education.
If you are an Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve Senior Airman who needs Airman Leadership School, you may have decided to forgo the correspondence version and take the five-week ALS in the classroom. If you are Active Duty, you may have orders for ALS attendance.
“It’s good to prepare and keep a right mindset, beforehand,” said Tech. Sgt. James Madnick, an active duty ALS instructor assigned here to the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford EPME Center.
Graduating ALS is required to become a Staff Sergeant; therefore, failing its completion can affect a military career. It’s also an Airman’s first experience with EPME. So if you are tackling your ALS in-resident this year – the encouraged version – take an all-in approach.
“There’s going to be a lot of studying and a of lot reading, and there’s a pretty extensive test at the end,” said Madnick.
Airmen may also encounter challenges unlike basic training, technical schools or college, said Madnick, who wrote these tips to help you prepare:
1. Clear your schedule
– Clear your schedule. Make sure that while you are attending ALS you can focus your time on the learning process. If possible, take a break from college classes during ALS. Don’t schedule unnecessary appointments or interviews during class.
2. Inform your family, it’s your priority
– Inform your family, it’s your priority while away. Let your spouse, kids and friends know that you are a full time student. While you will get down time to contact them, you will also have assignments and mandatory functions that you will need time for.
3. Check your uniforms, early
– Check your uniforms, early. Students who show up without having tried on their service dress often run into problems. For those who haven’t worn their blues since basic military training or technical school, there’s likely items that no longer fit or need replacement. Also, bring two sets of awards and decorations ribbons and badges - one set for your service dress coat and one set for your blue shirt. Learn what the semi-formal uniform includes. This uniform is worn at the graduation banquet, so check with instructions, AFI-36-2903, and make sure you have the required items (i.e., there’s a white button-up shirt; etc.)
4. Re-familiarize yourself with basic drill
– Re-familiarize yourself with basic drill and ceremony movements. You are graded on your ability to march a flight, so practice facing movements and learn the basics to get ahead of the game. There’s the manual, AFMAN 36-2203, which references all Drill and Ceremonies information that you need.
5. Have a Wi-Fi capable laptop
– Have a Wi-Fi capable laptop, prior to departing. A majority of ALS assignments are completed on a computer, so bring your personal laptop, or see if you can sign out a laptop from your unit.
Instructors said that these five tips are just a fraction of the challenges in store during your initial EPME. Take advantage of all guides, materials and lessons given, and you will be ready to lead a future Air Force.