So far in our series of what military friendly really means, we have covered the importance of accreditation when picking the right school for you to attend, and how to determine the best degree program for you to pursue. Now we will explore making sure you get the credit you deserve. Let’s face it, the military spent a lot of money to train, equip, and educate you in order to do the job you do or did so well wearing the uniform of our nation. Why not get credit for that training and experience?
In your research on finding the right college for you to attend and the right degree program to study, you will find many so called “military friendly” institutions touting they recognize military training and experience for transfer into college credit. The question are: Do they really? How do you know? What should you know? Do they count for degree requirements or just extra credits that don’t help you complete your degree?
Ok, there are a few things you need to know when it comes to the transfer of military training and experience to college credits.
Your first consideration in getting the credit you deserve is to determine if the school you are looking to attend a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC), a signatory of the Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding (DoD MOU), and a supporter of Executive Order 13607 – Establishing Principles of Excellence. If the school you are looking to attend is neither of these, then do not expect that they will consider your military training and experience for college credit.
So why should your school be a SOC school? First, just to make sure we are reporting accurate information, as of the time of publication of this Blog, the Undersecretary of Defense that provides oversight to the Voluntary Education Program has revised the contract which SOC was a part of, effectively dissolving the SOC Consortium. SOC will remain as an oversight and compliance arm of the DoD Voluntary Education Program, but the consortium of schools will no longer be in effect as of 1 January 2015. The provisions of SOC’s DNS and Consortium are now covered under the DoD MOU. However, it is expected, by the DoD that all former and future members of SOC will continue to embrace and follow the SOC Principles, Criteria, and Standards of Good Practice.
Three of the Standards of Good Practice schools are to embrace deal with the transfer of credits. The first is for schools to design and implement transfer policies to minimize loss of credit and avoid the duplication of coursework. The second, and most important, is to recognize and award where appropriate college credit for military training and experience. The third standard deals with the awarding of college credit for nationally recognized standardized tests, which include CLEP (College Level Examination Program), DSST (Department of Defense’s Defense Activity for Nontraditional Education Support), and ECE (Excelsior College Examinations).
One of the elements of the DoD MOU requires schools, whether they are a member of SOC or not, is to provide to potential students before enrollment, their transfer credit policies which must include whether or not they will accept military training and experience for college credits as reflected on their JST. The DoD MOU is quite clear as to the requirements for colleges when it comes to transfer credits and the requirement to consider military training and experience for transfer. Colleges are to let you, the military-related student, know BEFORE you enroll, exactly what your transfer credits will look like and how they will be applied to your degree program. It is just that simple!
Why is this important to know? We will go into much more detail in the next Blog when we cover your Joint Service Transcript, but for now here is an example.
The JST of an Army Staff Sergeant, who is a Military Police Officer, having completed Warrior Leader and the Advance Leader Course, and who was a Recruiter, reflects a total of 41 college level credits. 16 of the 41 credits fall under the category of criminal justice,12 credits fall under the category of general business administration, and remaining 13 credits fall under the category of general electives. When you consider that a normal amount of credits carried by students for a semester is 12 – 15, this means this Staff Sergeant, depending on the school he chooses to attend and the transfer policy of that school, may have already completed 3 semesters of college! This directly impacts how long you will need to stay in college to complete your degree and just how far your benefits will go. Wouldn’t you want to know this information BEFORE you enroll into a particular college?
In the next Blog, we will decipher the JST and let you know the questions to ask college admissions or enrollment counselors.