Want college credits for your military service? You should and may be easier than you think!
But first, you need to know ACE (American Council on Education)!
The American Council on Education is considered one of the most influential and visible association for higher education. The ACE represents the degree-granting institutions, which are inclusive of the four year and the two year degree colleges, universities which are public and private and entities for-profit and the non-profit ones which are accredited by the US president. The strength of this ACE lies in the member institutions which are 1700 in number and have been loyal for more than 10 years. You find that representatives from different sectors convened by the ACE are able to tackle the challenges of higher education. The focus of the ACE is to be able to improve access and try to make sure that every student can succeed.
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Translation of Military Training into College Credits
Many veterans who are heading to school are able to get college credits for their military experience and training, including courses in leadership development. Some of the student veterans are able to get a good start on their education post-military coupled with the classes they might have taken during active duty. Credit transfer policies are different in accordance to the institution and state, so it becomes important that service members who wish to attend college start the process early. Transitioners need to understand the policy of credit transfer in the school they are thinking of and should get their transcripts reviewed by the same. There are three organizations which offer help to the members of service who are wishing to pursue a degree after and during their service:
1. Service members opportunity Colleges consortium (SOC) : this awards credits for academic testing and military training.
2. The American Council Of Education (ACE) : the evaluation of what kind and how much of credit to be awarded for occupations and military training.
3. Defense activities for Non-traditional Education Support ( DANTES) : manages SOC’s work and offers several education programs considered ‘special’.
What are Military Experience Credits?
The American Council on Education (ACE) can determine the college credit for military training and experience. The ACE analyzes each Rating or MOS and the associated grades or ranks and determines if the required skills and knowledge meet the requirements of the academic for college credits. The specialties’ of the Air Force are granted after evaluation through the Community College of Air Force. Besides this, the ACE also reviews the military training programs curriculum which includes correspondence and classroom courses. This can determine the level and the amount of credit which is to be awarded. It is through ACE that you can think of taking academic credit for almost all the training taken by you, even the basic training.
Military Experience Credits and Limitations
You should be aware that not all of the ACE credits can apply for a degree program chosen by you. Most of the ACE credits earned by the service members apply to only associates Degree (lower level) free-elective. You can say, a few selected credits can actually apply toward upper level course work or core requirements. The technical degrees can be an exception where the veteran is looking out for a degree in the actual military occupation. Like, a network security degree may fit with the ACE credits of a veteran.
Besides this, it depends on the college to decide how many credits are acceptable by them and the manner in which they will be applied to a degree specified. You may come across many schools who do not grant any credit for military experience. It is advisable to look around for a school that can best fit your requirement, which include degree options, value, accreditations and grants the credits for military experience. You can ask the counselor for admissions about the policy of the school for accepting recommendations based on ACE credits before you enroll.
Ways to get Academic Credit for Military Training
Service members and veteran have different ways and means to earn the required credit for their military training. However, it is up to the school or college to decide what is acceptable. Different schools have different policies for granting credit, you might find some which are absolutely liberal but then there are some who offer no credits at all. As said earlier, make sure your credits are granted before you enroll. Many institutions do not have any written information on credit policies, a student needs to be assertive and ask for the same. Given below are some ways in which service members and veterans can avail of academic credit for their military training.
1. Joint Services Transcript
On leaving the army a veteran can get a joint Services transcript, which is a record of their training. This transcript is a complete record of the trainings which were completed and approved by the American Council of Education for credits. This advocacy group for universities and colleges has been working along with the military service since the year 1950 to get credits for veterans for their military training. The universities are in no way bound to accept credit recommendations of the council but all the same there are around 2,000 universities doing so. There are a number of schools which grant credit based on the recommendations of the ACE but these are awarded as a general elective credit, not filling any degree requirement specifically. Might make a service member feel good but is no help in finishing the degree early.
2. Credit by Exam
Veterans have another option of earning college credit through examinations, which test their knowledge of the content which is taught in the courses in college. This is also dependent on the schools to decide whether credits will be granted for these exams. This College Level Examination Program can allow a student to take around 33 exams which are standardized in American Literature, biology in accordance to the website. Veteran can also go through the DSST, which is a test process standardized established by the Defense Department.
ACE Credit Recommendations
As we are aware that the working of the ACE is on a contract basis from the Department of Defense which is administered by DANTES, Defense Activity for Non Traditional Education Support. The ACE works towards facilitating and conducting academic reviews of military occupations and courses. An ACE military Evaluation is considered as hands-on process which is rigorous conducted by the teaching faculty team from academic disciplines which are relevant representing different universities and colleges. This team validates, after assessing whether the occupations or courses have content which is appropriate besides an appropriate scope for recommendations for college credit. You can find the results of the ACE on their website.
Transferring Credit to a new institution
There are few steps to follow before you think of transferring credits to a new institution.
1. You need to research and find out an academic institution which can meet your requirements. You might want to select an institution that has policies which can maximize your learning like DANTES, CLEP, and military credit.
2. Make sure you understand the academic institution’s procedures and policies with regard to the transfer of credits as they are different in different institutions.
3. Review and audit your military transcripts on a regular basis for modifications and updates.
4. You need to start off the transfer and transcript process well on time .You need to make sure that all the previous official transcripts from service branches as well as colleges are set to your new school so that these can be evaluated before you start off your classes.
5. Your academic advisor can help you in avoiding taking classes for which you are expecting a transfer credit, and you can wait till the evaluation is completed. There are many students who land up wasting money and tie in classes that are duplication of the previous courses.
Before you meet with your academic advisor, you need to identify your academic courses and review the degree plan, considering the credit recommendations make sure this is appropriate to your degree plan. Your credit recommendations also should be compared to the courses in the institute. Like, the topics and learning outcomes on the exhibit of the ACE course being similar to the courses mentioned in the catalog of the institute. You need to take ownership during the process of transfer by following up the registrar, transfer or the admission’s department. You also need to make sure to monitor the transfer approvals, curriculum plan, and documentation within university systems which are formal. This is termed as a ‘degree audit’ and it means that you, along with your academic adviser are able to make sure that the appropriate credit is being granted to you and that you are opting for the right classes for your degree.
ACE Credit Recommendations
ACE military credit recommendations last for a good 10 years unless there is a change in the course and you need to submit this for a re-review. You should be aware that correspondence courses are not evaluated by the ACE as these are unable to meet the criteria of a firm identification of a student with a control which is rigid for test conditions.