The process of applying to an institution of higher education can often be daunting for military and veteran students who have been out of school for some time. Unlike their peers, who often have family members and high school guidance counselors helping them through the application process, military and veteran students are left to navigate it on their own. They may have a lot of questions and require extra guidance as they work towards submitting an application and gaining admittance to your institution. Providing clear and concise directions on your institution’s application process along with established school policies on issues related to the acceptance of student veterans can make the application, readmission, and transfer processes much less daunting for potential student veterans.
Admissions policies for student veterans are meaningless unless veterans apply to your college or university. Therefore, recruitment is a critical part of building a successful veterans program. Encouraging veterans to join your campus community is a strong first step towards ensuring they feel welcomed at your school. It demonstrates recognition of their service and shows that your school values the skills and experiences veterans can bring to the educational environment.
Effective practices related to veteran recruitment vary. Some institutions have created a role for a veteran recruiter as part of their efforts to include a veteran population on campus. This recruiter, who is sometimes a VA Work-Study candidate, can also help veterans navigate financial aid benefits, application processes, and more.
Word of mouth is considered to be the best method for encouraging veterans to attend your institution. Other recruiting methods include traveling to county fairs, National Guard or Reserve units, base education offices, education and job fairs, and welcome-home events.
Because of their service, many veterans are launching formal higher education pursuits from a different time and place in life, when compared to traditional college students. As a result, they may not have current college entrance exam scores, or their scores may simply not reflect their level of readiness for higher education, especially after receiving top-notch, rigorous and formal military training. Therefore, it is important to consider the entire portfolio when reviewing veterans' information for admission or readmission. Many schools today are applying prior learning assessment and/or portfolios when reviewing veterans' applications.
Official military transcripts are a key element to the veteran's admissions package. Consider whether your institution can accept older college entrance exam scores from veterans or if their military service should positively affect admissions decisions, especially where other requirements may be lacking.
Additionally, you should determine whether veterans on your campus should be admitted as new students or transfer students. In many cases, veterans may have academic credits to transfer in from military transcripts and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. These credits can affect admissions decisions, housing eligibility, or class status. Review your school’s policies to help veterans get the most out of their education while providing accommodations for such circumstances.
The Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit is intended to serve as a guide for institutions developing or reviewing policies dealing with transfer, acceptance and award of credit. Use the ACE Military Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Forces for any questions you might have with regard to the transfer and award of credits. If you cannot accept all of the student’s military credits, clearly communicating the reasons, in writing, is most helpful to the student veteran.
For general admissions considerations, decide whether your school will waive entrance exam requirements or accept older college entrance exam scores from veterans, or if their service could weigh positively on admissions decisions, if and where other requirements may be lacking.
Many military members anticipate applying military experience toward their education goals in the form of transfer credits. But while many institutions accept military credit recommendations, anecdotal evidence indicates that veterans are often dissatisfied with the type and amount of credit awarded.
Sometimes, credit transfer for all or most of an individual’s military training is not always a good policy for veterans’ success since it results in them rushing toward the finish line of a diploma. Regardless, unrealistic transfer expectations, as well as poor advising and lack of communication about resources and processes, were identified by participating veterans as key challenges in this area.
When veterans have a clear understanding of their military transcripts and basic information about transfer policies and issues they can more successfully navigate their way through the process of transferring credit for military training and experience.
The transcript review process should be clearly stated in outreach materials, on your institution’s website and in briefings delivered at college fairs. If it is difficult for service members to find complete information about your credit transfer policies, they may look elsewhere for their educational pursuits.
Many academic institutions appoint a dedicated academic adviser to work with military students. This individual, serving as an ombudsman, is able to devote the time necessary to help the student learn about the transcript transfer review process. Performed by either a full-time employee or a VA Work-Study intern, this position results in a dedicated adviser who can help build standardized institutional capacity while still providing personalized advising. Such a strategy can go a long way toward reducing confusion and allows service members to make educated and informed decisions about their academic endeavors.