NAVAL STATION GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- The Seaman to Admiral (STA-21) commissioning program, which provides a passageway for qualified Sailors to receive a college education and a commission, is soliciting applications for fiscal year 2011.
The deadline for submitting application packages is July 1.
The STA-21 program is one of the best officer commissioning programs the Navy has to offer, according to Dr. C. Jill Stein, Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program director at Naval Service Training Command's Officer Development directorate in Pensacola, Fla.
"STA-21 pays up to $10,000 per year for college costs such as tuition, books and fees," said Stein. "All the while, Sailors draw their full pay and allowances for their current pay grade. Under the STA-21 program, Sailors have 36 months, including summer semesters, to complete their Bachelors degree requirements."
There are several options within the STA-21 program toward which prospective candidates can pursue, including Pilot, Naval Flight Officer, Surface Warfare Officer, Special Warfare, Special Operations, Human Resources Officer, Civil Engineer Corps, Nurse Corps, and Medical Corps endeavors.
The STA-21 program benefits Sailors as well as the Navy. The average candidate has at least two years and in most cases more than four years, of observed performance which assists in the process of selecting the most qualified Sailors to receive a commission.
Additionally, STA-21 candidates are on average older than most midshipmen, bringing a maturity directly reflected in the more than 90 percent completion rate STA-21 program candidates boast.
Additionally, because many Sailors involved in the STA-21 program already have some college credit, not all candidates need the three years allotted to earn a degree.
All of these factors - proven performance for better selection, maturity for higher completion rates, and some college credit to help shorten the time in the program - save the Navy money while producing top-quality experienced naval officers.
In the STA-21 program, as it is in many competitive selection processes, it is often a candidate's extra efforts which can result in selection.
"With so many great Sailors to choose from, selection boards often look for the tie breakers or the indicators of extra effort, potential and desire; in this regard the STA-21 program is no exception," Stein said. "As always, performance is the number one criteria. When given the chance to lead, take it. No matter how small the opportunity, step up and lead people, and lead them well. Also attend to your physical as well as your professional preparedness."
Commanding officers and other reporting seniors thinking they have a Sailor with the potential to be selected as an officer or candidate for any other special program should comment in the candidate's performance evaluations on their leadership and potential early in their career, even if the numeric grade and promotion recommendations time on board, time in grade and peer ranking are not fully consistent with the comments.
Before assigning Sailors to an interview board, commanding officers and executive officers should conduct training with the candidate on how to be board members and how to participate in a board. The best Sailors should be ranked high and comments and grades should match.
If a Sailor is the number one candidate within a command, the Officer Interview Board or the Nomination Review Board grades and remarks should match a Sailor's outstanding ranking and the comments. Lack of consistency must be reconciled by the selection board, which makes it more difficult to evaluate a Sailor's true potential. Additionally, Sailors should undergo a mock board for practice before going to an official board.
Career counselors, officer program coordinators, commanding officers and executive officers should assist applicants by taking time to closely scrutinize packages for correctness and to determine if the applicant really meets the requirements of the applied for program.
Every year, approximately one-third of STA-21 program applications are determined to be "not-qualified" for one reason or another - the top three reasons being: no SAT/ACT scores; the applicant did not qualify for the STA-21 program or the program-option applied for, or the application lacked a mandatory document.
After careful scrutiny, if either the command or the applicant is still unsure if the program requirements are met or not, they can contact the STA-21 program office by email at: PNSC_STA21@navy.mil or they can call (850) 452-9563, DSN: 922-9563. Office personnel can answer all questions and explain if a specific requirement can be waived.
The STA-21 program requires a minimum score of 500 critical reading and 500 math, or an ACT score of 20 english and 21 math for eligibility. The single exception to this is the nuclear option, where the minimums are a composite Scholastic Aptitude Test score of 1,140 or a composite ACT score of 30. These requirements cannot be waived. The score for any test taken within three years of application is acceptable.
Because of the delay between testing and score release, it is strongly recommended Sailors take the requisite tests early. By doing so, Sailors will determine if they meet the minimum requirements before investing their time in putting a package together.
If a Sailor does not meet minimum requirements the first time they test, they can take the test again. Sailors having been away from an educational environment for an extended time or not testing well on an initial attempt should consider taking an SAT or ACT test preparation course.
Having some college-level courses completed can significantly impact Sailors involved in a program allowing participants 36 months to complete a Bachelor's degree. Those students who may not have been strong high school scholars or in pre-service attempts at higher education, attending college courses while in an off-duty status and establishing a track record of continued interest in furthering an education can positively impact a Sailor's eligibility for the program.
Prospective candidates should also ensure they take the right college courses. Calculus and physics are requirements for almost all STA-21 program options, and having successfully completed these before entering the program is significant.
If Sailors pursue college off duty, whether in preparation for STA-21 or not, they should have a degree plan. A review of transcripts indicates that many Sailors take college courses in a random, unorganized fashion, and many applicants are pursuing a particular degree but have not taken any courses in support of that degree. Sailors should have a purpose and a goal in their pursuit of a college degree, and they should be counseled by Navy Campus and their career counselors along these lines.
As part of the STA-21 program application, Sailors must submit a personal statement, something which represents that candidates best opportunity during the STA-21 application process to tell the Navy why they think they should be selected for the program, and what they expect to do with the opportunity if provided the opportunity.
A Sailor's personal statement should provide specific, substantive comments on why they want to be a Navy officer and why they chose the particular officer career, and also demonstrate an understanding of the requirements of the chosen career field and a sense of what they can do for the Navy if selected for the program.
The most accurate STA-21 program information, including full details of the program, specifics for each of the program options and the on-line application, can be found on the STA-21 website at https://www.sta-21.navy.mil/. Additionally, OPNAVINST 1420.1B (Chap. 8) and associated NAVADMIN messages provide the directive guidance for the program.
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.