The main purpose of this post is to play the role of a devil’s advocate regarding the topic of transfer credits, and to discuss it from a different perspective.
The majority of colleges and universities, who are vying for their piece of the military college student market have adopted very liberal transfer policies regarding the acceptance of military training and experience. One of the main reasons they implemented such liberal transfer policies are military students and their “shopping behavior” when looking at colleges to attend. Receiving the maximum amount of transfer credits from a college they are considering attending based on their military training and experience reflected on their Joint Services Transcript (JST) is one of the key decision points used by many service members in making their decision as to which college to attend.
The most liberal of transfer policies used by colleges and universities to attract military service members and veterans to their doors is having a policy where students must complete a minimum residency requirement of no more than 25% in order to be awarded a degree from that school. In essence this means that a service member attending a college on the semester hour credit system, with undergraduate degree programs of 120 semester hours (40 classes); the military student would only have to complete 30 semester hours or 10 classes in order to “earn” their degree from that school. This equates to the service member having the ability to transfer in 90 semester hours into the degree program from their JST, other colleges they have attended, and the results from standardized tests like the DSST or CLEP. On the surface this sounds great and the ideal situation for the military or veteran student.
However, are they earning a watered down version of the degree at these institutions with such a liberal transfer policies?
The majority of four-year, 120 semester hour degree programs will have both General Education and Free Elective course requirements in addition to the “Major” requirements of the program. In each of these main categories, a certain amount of credits must be considered “upper level” courses. Certainly an argument can be made regarding the acceptance of general education courses and “free” electives from other schools and/or from a JST as transfer credits. However, when it comes to the actual courses listed for the major requirements, the heart and soul of the program, should the liberal transfer policy still apply? Should military training and experience count for transfer credits for major requirements? If schools do not allow this, does this make them a bad school or a non-military friendly school?
One of the main purposes of going to college and earning a bachelor’s degree is to be better prepared for today’s workforce, by giving you the tools and acumen required to be successful in a particular career field. Certainly, a Sergeant First Class or Gunner Sergeant has experience and skill sets as a leader and manager, which are translatable and transferable to the civilian workforce, but do they have the full acumen needed to be successful? Here is another way to look at it. Does an Army Sergeant First Class Culinary Specialist 92G40, who has completed his/her Advanced Leader Course have the same qualifications to be an 11B40 Platoon Sergeant? In some respects yes they do, however, they will require additional training and education in order to allow them to be fully effective.
When looking at colleges to attend don’t let the number of transfer credits a school will give you, blind you to looking at the whole degree and what you plan on doing with it. The most important element to consider is to make sure you are FULLY prepared for the civilian workforce. This means ensuring you have the required acumen available, so you can make the greatest impact by leveraging your military training and experience with the newly gained knowledge and information from your degree program.