December 30, 2016, by David McCauley – American military veterans receive a variety of benefits in return for their years of service. Many of these benefits are well known to the public, like the G.I. Bill or VA Health Care. Education, benefits in particular, are an attractive option and contributing factor toward enlisting in the military. This is understandable given the considerable cost associated with undertaking and completing a four-year degree. College isn’t cheap.
There are several ways that you can use your military training to complete your degree at an accelerated pace, for example via Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) and the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).
The American Council on Education allows service members from any branches of the military to use their training toward college credits. Depending on your desired degree and military specialty it’s possible you could speed up the time it takes to earn your degree by as much as 25 to 50 percent. For men and women in technical specialties, it wouldn’t be unheard of to make it through basic training and technical training alone having earned 20 to 30 credits. Across the full enlistment of four or six years, you might earn many more than this through training and your own due diligence.
Navigating veterans benefits can be difficult and stressful, but veterans also have access to different types of counseling and support. The types of counseling can include educational counseling, career counseling, financial counseling, and many other options. Once veterans transition out of the military and into a career or academic life, it’s understandable that they may need guidance from career counselors and veteran advocates who can help them gain access to the wide range benefits they’re eligible to. These social workers advocate for veterans and can help in times of hardship.
It may not seem like an important benefit, but getting the right advice at the right time is invaluable. Many schools have a variety of programs to help you pay for college, but others have centers specifically designed to help veterans get advice and transition into college. Arizona State University is a military friendly institution that encourages the use of the G.I. Bill as well as military tuition reimbursement programs to pay for your education. You can find out more at the Pat Tillman Veterans Center.
Most schools are fairly eager to get G.I. Bill dollars and so might be more accommodating toward accepting military training as credit. 10 years ago the primary option for completing college in the military was to either attend a local university near where you were stationed or use opportunities on base or aboard ship through distance learning, like what you might find at Excelsior College. However, with more and more schools choosing to embrace online education and degree programs it’s now possible to have your choice of where you would like to attend with much more variety in degree type. Regardless of what you choose, it is clear that the training you have already gone through offers you a distinct advantage that can accelerate the time of program completion.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.