From the military to college

In her years in the military, CheekyReadhead passed demanding courses on ultrasound technology, then worked on cutting-edge equipment. Hospitals were eager to hire her when she left the military. But now that she wants to earn a degree, she can’t get her military training recognized by colleges, which want her to retake classes she’s already passed. Furthermore, she can’t get an explanation of what criteria colleges are using to reject her military coursework. She writes on Team Sugar:

Colleges award degrees to anyone that can obtain a “minimal” standard while the military will only take those who excel—they choose excellence over mediocrity.

Every soldier is expected to excel in their field or they are either moved to a less technical field, reclassified or simply discharged.

. . . The civilian job market recognizes this level of achievement by simply choosing a veteran over a new grad student because they know the value of actual working experience and the dedication required to be successful in the military.

She’s campaigning for a law requiring colleges and universities to give credits for college-level military training.  I think the military is working on this for people now serving but apparently it isn’t helping veterans.

About Joanne


  1. I graduated from a fairly prestigious school in New York with a bachelor’s degree in math. When, about a decade later, I was working on getting a teaching credential, I could satisfy “subject matter competence” in one of two ways:
    1. take some fairly rigorous tests, or
    2. have someone at a UC or CSU “bless” my transcripts.

    Had I gotten my degree *in* California, my transcripts wouldn’t have been scrutinized. It was only because my degree came from outside the state that I had to jump through these hoops.

    So I called the state schools near my house. UC Davis math folks wouldn’t even look at my transcript because I didn’t go to a UC. I got a Sac State math guy to look at my transcript, but he said I needed 4 (later changed to 3) classes, including a History Of Math class, before he could vouch for my transcript.

    So let’s bring this back to *your* post. What possible reason could universities have for not recognizing other coursework, or for wanting you to take courses at their schools? Hmm, I wonder. (The answer: follow the money.)

    Oh, and by the way, I took those tests. Scored really high on them, too. And now the State of California says that I have achieved “subject matter competence”.

  2. I took a probability class at U of P as a senior. When I attended NCSU as a graduate student I was required to take it again the following year. I did. I think this was typical for almost everyone in my class at NCSU. Colleges can be pretty picky about transferring credits. I have heard that some schools are pretty easy about accepting credit for military and life experience, but I have no recent first hand knowledge of this.

    Way back then U of P only gave credit for AP classes if the were passed with a 5.

  3. I advise students – including many transfer students – and transfer credits are a giant headache. With some schools, the transfer is “accepted” because there’s been an agreement – even when, in some cases, the class really ISN’T as rigorous as the version we teach. In other cases, students who – from having talked to them – really DO have the background from another school are stuck re-taking classes because of no agreement.

    I don’t know of any good solution short of every faculty member keeping old finals on hand and administering them on-demand to a student who claims they should get credit. They pass the final, fine. If not – they need to take the class.

  4. For general information, many colleges have a “credit by final exam” option. Sometimes you have to dig [I had to at NCSU, as an undergrad, in getting out of statistics], but many times you can get credit simply by getting a C or better on the final exam.

    1. Don’t waste an entire semester with butt in seat, extra work to do
    2. Don’t have to pay for credits [depends on the college, but I was fulltime already, so probably why they didn’t charge me]
    3. Not part of calculated GPA

    1. Sometimes you have to wait til end of semester, when everyone else is taking the exam, to take the final – no help if you need the credit as a pre-requisite.
    2. Not part of calculated GPA [if you wanted an easy A]

    When I did it, I went to the dean of the dept of stats, pulled out the portion of the official student handbook that described it [and photocopied it for him]. I took the final with everyone else for intro stats, and I aced the test. Got the credits. Requirement fulfilled.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    When I got out of OCS (Infantry), they told us a couple of things which seemed unlikely. One was that as federal officers, we didn’t need a license to carry a firearm, even concealed. Glad I didn’t test that.
    Another was that any college would give us four credits in something or other for having graduated from the Benning School for Boys. Glad I didn’t test that, either.

  6. Shouldn’t acceptance of the credits be up to the discretion of a private college?

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Of course.
    And, as it should not be necessary to continue to repeat for about the zillionth time, we are free to call certain exercises of discretion “stupid”.

  8. Do universities make the most “profit” from freshmen/sophomore classes? Given the typical student to teacher ratios in general/introductory classes that seems to make sense. I suppose this might give universities incentive to withhold credit for those classes.

  9. Richard Aubrey says:

    Those classes are generally larger and, in some cases, it’s either the junior profs or some grad students teaching. So, even if it’s a prof up there, he’s not making the big bucks like his older brethren.

  10. The Air Force has an educational institution known as the Community College of the Air Force. Military training is given credit via the CCAF, and when I attended the University of Maryland’s overseas classes, they accepted most of my CCAF credits. Cal State Long Beach did too. I don’t know if a UC would have done so, but I have not heard anything from other veterans that would lead me to a negative conclusion. At least in the Air Force, there is this path to “legitimizing” military credits for use in civilian higher education.


  11. What ever happened to CLEP tests? Or the other one that I can’t remember the name of?

  12. I’ve been a prof at a college for 30 years. Trust me, it’s ALL about the money.

  13. I thought CLEP tests were only for certain courses? Though yeah, it would help a lot with introductory level courses, which are probably the ones most folks would get stuck taking. (I’m sure CLEP tests still exist)

  14. Cardinal Fang says:

    CLEP tests still exist, but lot of colleges percieve them as easy and watered down. Many privates accept AP credits but do not accept CLEP credits.

  15. “When I got out of OCS (Infantry), they told us a couple of things which seemed unlikely. One was that as federal officers, we didn’t need a license to carry a firearm, even concealed. Glad I didn’t test that.”

    Good you didn’t, because it’s incorrect, and carried a concealed firearm without a permit is a felony in most states. If you were a federal law-enforcement officer (including an MP) ON DUTY, or a federally-licensed interstate firearms dealer, yes, then you can preempt state carry laws.