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It is often not a straight line to a college degree because of deployment and movement.
Earning college credit can be accomplished in a number of ways. For Military learners, it is often not a straight line to obtaining a college degree. Often, movement and transitions between institutions and programs occur because of assignments and deployments. The stop and start nature of students moving around offers more complexity and often frustration. There are many institutions that promote they will accept Military learners, but they are not all equal in how they treat prior learning and count it toward degree requirements. One key recommendation is to keep track of your course work.
SOC stands for Servicemen Opportunities Colleges. It is a list of over a thousand colleges and universities that claim to be Military friendly. There are no consistent practices across institutions. Yet, schools sign up for SOC because they know Military learners have GI Benefits and special funding to pay for college courses. Since the practices for credit acceptance vary, it is up to you to validate how prior training and course credits you have taken along your path will be treated before enrolling. Not all SOC schools offer comparable experiences - thus they differ on transfer policies by program. Many will offer transferability of courses - with variations on how courses apply toward specific degree requirements. For more information on SOC, please review specific policies offered by the consortium.
Whether you're earning college credits to be eligible for promotion, or to achieve your goal of degree completion, it is important for you to take the time to meet with your education service officer or an academic advisor who specializes in serving military learners. If you are no longer in the Military, you should look for advice from third parties who can help offer advice independent of institution. Your military training, even basic training, has been evaluated for college-level knowledge by the American Council on Education (ACE).
Other organizations, such as Council on Adult Experiential Learning (CAEL) can offer advising services sponsored by Military benefits. Before enrolling, be sure to ask your advisor or Admissions counselor if ACE credit recommendations are accepted and how will they be transcribed - or in other words, how will they count toward degree requirements. This will require an AARTS or SMART transcript, but is well worth the effort because it can reduce the number of remaining credits needed to complete your degree. Specialty schools and other types of military training and education should also be submitted.
Most colleges and universities maintain computer systems capable of generating a complete record of your academic experience including enrollment, attendance and grades. It is your right to request a copy of your official academic transcript and to request copies be forwarded on your behalf to other institutions or others who may require them. Not many people keep their academic transcripts after they graduate.
It is strongly recommended you request a transcript at the end of each term and academic year you are enrolled. Retain copies for proof of enrollment and completion. You never know when you may need them. If you are transferring or planning on attending graduate school, you will be required to request official transcripts from all of the institutions you have attended.
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