Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Honoring military service for college credit

Continuing education has always been a key resource for both active and former U.S. service members and their families. It gives them access to increased earning potential, leverages their military experience and education, and gives them a new direction once they've completed their service.

For service members in particular, pursuing a degree might mark the culmination of the time and effort they've already put into their military service. Many service members come to continuing education, colleges, and universities with far more "life experience" than the average student, and in some cases are also ahead of the game academically.

That makes it all the more surprising that an estimated one in five institutions of higher education don't give academic credit for military education, according to a survey by the American Council on Education. Thirty-six percent of schools also don't credit military occupational training.

Our approach has always been to carefully examine each service member's military experience and look for relevant credits. There's no sense in making a student repeat a course or learn something they clearly already know. It’s a key reason why hundreds of military personnel, their families, and dependents choose us to complete their education.

In my experience, time is always a concern for service members. Using the credits an individual has earned through military service and combining these credits with any traditional college credit earned will shorten the time it takes to obtain a college degree.

If you're a service member considering continuing your education, the first step is to request a transcript from your military branch. Each branch has its own place to request these transcripts, and the links can be found on the Peirce College Web site.

Next, be sure to confirm the school's accreditation. Peirce College is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, is a Yellow-Ribbon School, and is Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC)-approved.

The institution you're applying to will then review the transcripts submitted and provide a credit evaluation. This gives you a road map to how class and such can be structured.

There are also resources available to help military service members and their families with tuition. I’ll be looking at federal grants and other options in a later post.