The Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions

More than 2.2 million military personnel have completed service in Iraq or Afghanistan, and an additional 90,000 are expected to return home by 2014. Though these brave servicemen and women have spent the last couple of years fighting to stay alive and defend their country, returning to civilian life requires them to enter a new battle: finding a job in an already struggling economy.

Many post-9/11 veterans (7.6% of which are currently unemployed) make the decision to leverage the Post-9/11 GI Bill in an effort to boost their skills and resume, and hopefully increase their chances of entering the workforce. But as we’ve spoken about on this blog many times before, selecting, applying to, attending, and graduating from a university is a whole new challenge in itself. Though many schools have made significant strides to make their campus more military-friendly, some colleges still don’t understand how to better assist this unique group of students.

To combat this issue, the American Council on Education (ACE) recently released the Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions, an interactive online tool that outlines best practices, including counseling services, faculty training, and on-campus centers. The tool also features a searchable database of resources, advice on identifying veterans during the application process, and instructions for checking in with these students as they work their way toward a college degree.

Says ACE President Molly Corbett Broad on this new resource: "The definition of 'veteran friendly' is as diverse as today's higher education community. Factors such as campus culture, academic environment, student body size and composition, location and more all play a role in determining what programs and services work for an individual institution and its students. ACE is proud to offer this toolkit, which we hope will assist institutions in making those choices.”

We think this is great news for veterans. As more universities learn about the unique needs of veteran students, the process of earning a degree and finding a great job will become that much easier for this group of students who truly deserve it.

Part of the counseling services to be offered to veterans should include academic placement through prior learning assessment and credit by examination. Credit by examination gauges the knowledge of diverse college level subjects resulting in college credit. One of the most popular ones are the suite of DSST exams (formerly known as the DANTES exam) which allow veterans, active military members, and other non-traditional students to earn credit on their own time, and at a fee that is generally easier to manage than the average cost for a 3-credit college course ($750). DSST exams are just $80 (plus a sitting fee), and are available in 38 unique subjects. Does the school you’re attending award credit for DSST exams? Find out here: http://getcollegecredit.com/institutions/search/

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