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How to Turn Your Military Skills into College Credits

How to Turn Your Military Skills into College Credits

By Wes O’Donnell

U.S. Army and Air Force Veteran, American Military University

The path to a college degree for many military servicemembers is often unorthodox. I collected no less than 70 credits from various sources throughout my 10 years in the military. During my service, I accumulated a multitude of community college classes from all over the country [and overseas], CLEP exam credits and nearly a decade of active-duty military skills and training.

When it was time to choose a school for my sprint to the finish line, I was on the hunt for a university that would make the transfer process easy. I also wanted my school to have a time-tested method of turning military training into college credits.

The Process of Converting Military Service into Class Credits

The first step is often a call to the admissions department of your prospective university. Do your due diligence; make sure that the university you choose will give you maximum value not only for your transfer credits, but your skills and experience as well.

For me, I chose American Military University (AMU). AMU allows 90 academic credits toward a bachelor’s degree (up to 60 non-traditional credits). In addition, their unique degree programs are tailor-made for non-traditional students. The online learning environment appeals to many veterans as some may find it difficult to juggle on-campus learning with a full-time career in the military.

Second, you’ll need to make sure that you have all of your transcripts from previous colleges sent to your new school for evaluation.

Third, consider using a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). Many universities allow you to use a PLA for academic credit; it provides you with an opportunity to showcase your military training in the PLA’s portfolio. The portfolio is a collection of materials that demonstrates previous college-level learning relevant to your academic degree plan.

With your transcripts in hand, contact your university regarding the building of your PLA portfolio. This process is one of your benefits and can remove years from your degree program, saving you both time and money.

American Council on Education Helps You ‘Translate’ Your Military Training and Experience

The American Council on Education (ACE) collaborates with DoD to review military training and experience and recommend appropriate college credit for members of the Armed Forces. ACE also provides policy guidance for the Joint Service Transcript (JST) used by the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard. The Air Force uses the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF).

You can view your JST at the website. Air Force personnel should contact CCAF to acquire their transcripts.

Advantages of Earning College Credits through Prior Experience

An accredited degree in your chosen career field is one of the best things you can do for your post-military professional life. Using this process allowed me to hold my Post 9/11 GI Bill in reserve for my master’s degree years later. As a result, I’m free of student loan debt and leveraging my education to pursue a career that I love.

Active duty servicemembers and veterans earned their education through sacrifice. There is no better way to say “thank you for your service” than to make it easier for them to achieve their life goals.

To find out more about AMU’s career-focused degree programs for active duty and veterans, reach out to an admissions officer a who can help you easily navigate the credit transfer process.