Transfer: Communicating with faculty to ease military credit approval

In her engaging Transfer Conference session “Military Credit: Navigating the Approval Process,” Jane Rex, Director of Transfer Services at Appalachian State University (ASU) shared her experience collaborating with department chairs to review and award credit for military education and experience.

Participants compared notes on institutional policies regarding military credit or credit by exam, with the number of credits accepted varying from 12 to 48 or more.

“It's OK to ask the question Why do we do it that way?” Rex said. “It’s important to understand the history behind your policies -- where are they coming from?” Departments may or may not know why these policies are in place, and it might be your job to help convince faculty that there’s academic integrity involved in deciding how to award credit. Understanding the history and context for policies and procedures can help you make your case.

Establishing a cross-institutional value

Educating and communicating with faculty was a major emphasis of Rex’s presentation.

“Ideally we’d like for faculty to like the idea and buy-in so it’s not a top-down effort but rather grassroots, bottom-up,” she said. “It needs to be an institutional value.”

In order to help inculcate this value across her institution, Rex requested to present to the Provost's council about the importance of accepting military credit (including data such as military personnel and veterans in her state) as well as respecting the academic integrity of the Joint Services Transcript (JST), which records credit for military education and experience. Once university leadership agreed this was an important issue, Rex received permission to present at the Council of Chairs. This presentation was an opportunity to develop relationships with department chairs and help establish understanding, trust and respect regarding the process for awarding military credit.

7 steps to easing military credit transfer

To undertake this kind of initiative, Rex said, it’s important to consider the following:

  1. Identify state and institutional initiatives. Some states have policies that dictate how institutions must deal with military students

  2. Gain administrative support. Request to present at the provost council or similar.

  3. Identify supportive partners, such as veterans, faculty, staff, military center and the military affairs committee.

  4. Establish relationships with academic departments.

  5. Communicate with department chairs regularly and meet with new chairs soon after they are appointed to explain the credit approval process.

  6. Educate the campus community. Discuss military credit (including Ace military evaluations and the JST) at faculty/staff orientation and raise awareness regarding the size and needs of the military student population on your campus. “My goal is, on the first day of class, every faculty member knows the breakdown of first year, transfer, and veteran students,” Rex said.

  7. Utilize current expertise. Hire veterans for work study positions and rely on faculty and staff with relevant experience.

Rex also shared their credit assessment process, which includes:

  • The Office of Transfer Services (OTS) reviews the JST to determine what coursework could be applicable toward a program of study or general education (done by VA work study student).

  • The OTS sends the JST along with supporting course details (course exhibit) to the department chair via email for review.

  • Chair reviews and replies indicating credit to be awarded (combination of courses can be used).

  • OTS updates the student record and notifies the student via email of the decision.

  • Credit is loaded by branch of military on the transcript and the equivalency guide.

  • OTS meets with new chairs each year to explain the process for military credit evaluation, what the request looks like, and what the goals are.

A veteran work study student created an articulation table, including the ACE exhibit number, title subject of the military course, the credit recommendation from ACE, potential ASU credit, other UNC system credit awarded (student calls other institutions), ASU course description, ACE description and the ACE link.

“The goal is to get equivalent credit,” Rex said. “We’ll take elective but the goal is to convert to as much equivalent credit as possible.”

 
Recognizing the experience and expertise of military students will help them to feel like they belong on your campus, and help them to achieve more.

Find handouts from Rex’s presentation "Military Credit: Navigating the Approval Process" through the AACRAO Engage mobile app. If the app is not already on your device, search for AACRAO Engage in your mobile app store.