Getting college credit for real world military training and experience is both quick and easy; money can be tight in today’s world and with jobs becoming more difficult to get without a college degree it can be comforting to know that there are services and people out there to help you get started on the post military experience.
Here are four steps to help you get started with getting college credit for military training, standardized tests, and real world experiences. These tips should help you to begin obtaining your college degree.
1. Find Schools That Interest You
There are thousands of schools in the United States that range from small to large – research which of them interest you the most. If possible, attempt to find schools with a Veteran Resource Program already in place; then make the transition from service to post-service life much easier. Veteran assistance programs can help with things ranging from enrollment, class selection, and even choosing your major. Not every school has a Veteran Resource Program in place and if you decide to attend a school without one try to contact an academic/enrollment advisor at the school as they can help to get the process started. Additionally, be careful as unfortunately not every school accepts Military credit and it is important to plan accordingly. If you wish to attend a school that does not accept Military credit plan ahead as this path may be more difficult.
2. Get a Hold of Your Transcript
Get your transcripts EARLY, the earlier the better. Planning for your future while on duty may be difficult but it is important to get ahead as colleges start either on a quarterly or semester schedule. This means that college may start right after you retire from service, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to search for schools – and getting copies of official transcripts sent out is the first step. Request a transcript from your branch of the military; each branch is different. The military will provide you with an UNOFFICIAL copy of the transcript and will send an OFFICIAL copy to schools of your choosing.
For members of the Army that system would be AARTS system, the system automatically logged all of your training and all of your Standardized test scores. THIS IS ONLY AVAILABLE TO ENLISTED SOLDIERS. To access the AARTS home page both a Username and a Password are required.
ii. Army Officers
Army Officers must use a DD 295 (Application for Evaluation of Learning) form to report training, test scores, and experiences.
iii. Navy and Marine Corps
BOTH the Navy and the Marine Corps use the S.M.A.R.T. system, the S.M.A.R.T. system has already captured training, test scores, and experiences.
iv. Air Force
The Air Force has two ways to obtain an official transcript:
FREE but it takes roughly 10-15 business days from when the order arrives to receive a transcript. The request is to be mailed to:
100 SOUTH TURNER BLVD
MAXWELL AFB GUNTER ANNEX, AL 36114
With a paper inside containing the full name, last four digits of your SSN (social security number), date of birth, the address where the transcript is to be sent i.e. home, college, employer AND A PHYSICAL SIGNATURE.
3rd party service – Credentials Solutions is a 24/7 service and delivers official transcripts through either First Class Mail or FedEx Express Overnight (but there is a fee that is not covered by the Air Force for using this service).
To view UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS (only available for active duty):
i. Using the Air Force Portal access the Air Force Virtual Education Center
ii. Click on a section called Self Service, under it should be a tab called CCAF View Progress Report
iii. Under the Students Tools banner there should be a tab labeled View My Unofficial Transcript
v. Coast Guard
Members of the Coast Guard, the C.G.I. (Coast Guard Institute) require every service member to submit documentation of all training, along with an enrollment form, to receive a transcript. USE J.S.T.
Most Veterans are eligible to use the services that are provided by each of your branches of the military.
vii. The J.S.T. (Joint Services Transcript) is a service created by the Department of Defense and is for Retired service members or members of active service who do not have access to a C.A.C. (Common Access Card) reader. Members eligible for J.S.T. are Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy: Active Duty, Reserve and Veterans.
3. Send Out Transcripts & Get Them Evaluated
After selecting a few schools the next step is to send out transcripts; most schools do not take transcripts directly from students so when you send in transcripts make sure to check with the school and find out how they would like to receive the transcripts. Don’t forget to toss in an old transcript from any previous academic experience i.e. high school, community college, technical school—anything helps. You will usually want to contact either a school’s Veteran’s Resource Center or academic advisor to determine when and to whom transcripts need to be sent. The college will then evaluate the amount of academic credit that they believe is of equivalent weight.
4. Choose a Degree & Courses
The final step is to choose courses. Try not to choose courses until all of your credit has been evaluated; by waiting for all credit to be evaluated there is little to no chance of classes overlapping. People who sign up for classes early may accidentally do so for classes that they already have credit for, so by waiting until you know your credit your time won’t be wasted re-taking classes.
Bonus Step – Appeal Transfer Credits
Appeal, Appeal, Appeal! Most schools have a process for a challenge and your advisor or counselor should be able to assist. Challenges can often be successful simply by requesting a more careful review of the information. If most of your credits are not accepted another option is to look at other schools that may apply more real life military experience towards college credits.
If you follow these steps you should receive the maximum credit possible for your service and be on the track to receiving your full college degree.