“Prior Learning Assessment: From Piecemeal to a Systems Approach”

Across the country, U.S. higher education institutions are developing more effective postsecondary pathways for post-traditional learners. Prior learning assessment (PLA) and credit for prior learning are critical components of these strategies.

To help showcase some of these effective strategies, the American Council on Education (ACE) will host a free webinar: "Prior Learning Assessment: From Piecemeal to a Systems Approach"
Nov, 14, 2013, 9:30-11:00 am EDT, that will show how three diverse higher education systems are building integrated policies and programs that advance quality PLA practices.

The webinar will showcase success stories from the University System of Georgia, Washington State's higher education institutions, and the University of Wisconsin System. Speakers will discuss the prior learning assessment strategy on his or her campus before engaging in conversation with ACE's Mary Beth Lakin. All speakers will answer questions from attendees throughout the webinar.

To register, or for a list of confirmed speakers and further information, go to www.acenet.edu/events/Pages/Prior-Learning-Assessment-Webinar.aspx. Or, email PMuelenbeck@ACENET.EDU for information or answers to questions.

Master Chief David Acuff, USN, DANTES Senior Enlisted Advisor

Fradulent Degrees are Big Business – Don’t be a Victim

Diploma Mills are notorious for imitating in superficial ways the structures and functions of legitimate degree programs. Conversely, there are many legitimate programs that offer nontraditional degrees in an effort to serve the needs of adult students. Therefore, it is difficult to develop a comprehensive list of characteristics that one can use to spot a Diploma Mill. Some characteristics students should look for are listed in this article. The following list is to be used with caution. It exemplifies the characteristics one may find (but not always) typical of Diploma Mills. Students are encouraged to beware and to investigate thoroughly any institution BEFORE beginning a program. Your military education center or virtual education center are excellent resources for to use when assessing the legitimacy of an educational institution. The book, Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees by Distance Learning, is another resource students may want to consult to avoid the pitfalls of enrolling in a Diploma Mill program.

Some of the characteristics of Diploma Mills are - The organization may have a name similar to a well-known college or university. The address often suggests a prestigious location, but mail may only be received at a post office box or mail service. The organization may frequently change its address. There is no significant cluster of physical facilities; it operates from a single office or maybe private residence. Full-time staff are few in number and lack qualifications appropriate for serving as professional educators or educational administrators. There is little or no selectivity in admissions; frequently there are no admissions requirements listed. Degree requirements, if any, are few and frequently unspecified. Degrees ordinarily can be obtained in a time frame far shorter than that required for the completion of a program at a generally recognized and accredited institution. Tuition and fees are usually on a per-degree basis.  Assessment of learning outcomes or achievement is minimal or nonexistent. The organization has no library or maintains inferior resources than that expected of a degree-granting institution. Great emphasis is placed on granting credit for work experience and prior life experiences without appropriate mechanisms for assessing the experience in terms of college-level work. Terms such as nontraditional, alternative, and innovative are used to gloss over a multitude of sins. The words "state-authorized" or "state-approved" are used to suggest that the organization has undergone a process of academic review comparable to accreditation. The organization is not accredited by an agency recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. Promotional materials may, however, list agencies not recognized by Department of Education.

Your military education center or virtual education center are excellent resources for Service members to use when assessing the legitimacy of an educational institution. The book, Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees by Distance Learning, is another resource students may want to consult to avoid the pitfalls of enrolling in a Diploma Mill program. Also check out the information at http://www.ed.gov/students/prep/college/diplomamills/resources.html , the Dept. of Education has assembled a number of articles and resources to help students avoid getting involved with a diploma mill.  Caveat Emptor – buyer beware, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Don’t fall for the quick fix –your education is your ticket to success.

Dr. Berry

Dr. Carol A. Berry is the Director of DANTES. With over 30+ years of military education experience, she is committed to equipping the education community with tools to serve military students.


Begin Your Free Kuder Journey Today!

DANTES currently has 50,000 Kuder® Journey accounts that will expire if not activated by Dec. 31, 2013. This is a free program paid for by DANTES that usually costs around $35 per account. Kuder Journey is available to active duty military personnel and Service members in transition. It is a valuable resource during the military-to-civilian transition process as well as finding a post military career. It provides tailored career guidance to Service members by a simple 20-minute assessment and aids with an occupations search which allows them narrow down a list of occupation fields that are right for them. From those occupations it will list the education needed to pursue that career as well as information on financial aid and job search and placement tools. Service members don’t even have to complete the assessments at this time; just activate the free, lifetime account. Activation takes less than 30 minutes. To date, Service members have activated about 14,000 of the 75,000 DANTES purchased. It is important to note that these accounts have until Dec. 31, 2013 to be activated. At that point, any unactivated accounts will be lost. Getting started DANTES encourages all Service members to take advantage of this free career guidance system. Information and training can be found at www.dantes.doded.mil/Programs/CounselorSupport.html. To register, go to www.dantes.kuder.com. Points of contact; your local education center, DANTES, Kuder Customer Support at support@kuder.com or 877-999-6227. Begin your journey today! Master Chief David Acuff, USN, DANTES Senior Enlisted Advisor

Are you aware that job skills you acquire in the military may translate into civilian credentials needed for your new career choice?

Without a professional certification, the job you apply for may be unobtainable. Credentialing (certification or licensure) is a DoD-wide program that can benefit all Service members and documents a level of competency and achievement in a particular career or skill area. Interested? Check out the Service specific resource links at: Army COOL www.cool.army.mil; Navy COOL www.cool.navy.mil; and Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) Credentialing Programs Flight www.au.af.mil/au/ccaf/certifications.asp. Master Chief David Acuff, USN, DANTES Senior Enlisted Advisor

Did You Know That You Could Earn College Credits Through Testing?

You can earn college credit for what you already know by earning qualifying scores on introductory-level college subject examinations. The DANTES-managed academic testing program provides fully funded exams for active duty, Guard, Reserve, and Coast Guard, including: GED; CLEP and DSST; undergraduate/ graduate admission exams; and teacher certification. Successful completion of these tests can save Service members significant time and money, and spare Tuition Assistance (TA) and/or GI benefits. Nearly 118,000 credits were earned last year through CLEP and DSST programs with a cost avoidance of $25M in TA. Just remember the first time you take a test it is fully funded. If you fail the test, you will have to pay for any re-tests of that subject. Master Chief David Acuff, USN, DANTES Senior Enlisted Advisor

Do You Want to Expand Your General Education, Knowledge and Skills?

The Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) for Military Success helps build reading comprehension, vocabulary and math skills, and prepares learners for college level courses. There is unlimited and free access 24/7 for Service members (Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, and Coast Guard) and their families. OASC is available at www.petersons.com/DANTES/. Master Chief David Acuff, USN, DANTES Senior Enlisted Advisor


Back to School: Starting School (Part 4 of 5)

This is part four of the Back to School series designed to be a step-by-step guide to make military members aware of the resources and education benefits that are available to assist in pursuing advanced education while on active duty. In part one Get Started with Self Assessments, you had a chance to take assessments that helped identify possible career fields that would best fit your unique skills, abilities, and work values. With this list of careers, part two provided tools that helped Explore and Narrow Your Options and begin to understand the qualifications that civilian employers prefer. Part Three provided tools to Map Your Route to Success by setting goals and choosing a degree or certification program to reach them. This article focuses on the next steps to actually getting started at a new college or university.

1.    Apply. Once you have done the work to prepare for school, as discussed in previous articles, your next step is to apply for the college or university of your choice. Most schools have applications online. While some schools offer no application fees for military members, most schools charge a non-refundable fee between $30-$75. During the application process, state-funded colleges and universities require certain documents to establish residency for tuition purposes. Be prepared to provide a copy of your orders if needed. Although each state has different residency requirements, since July 1, 2009, members of the armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) on active duty for a period of more than 30 days and his or her spouse, or his or her dependent children are be eligible to receive in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in the state where they reside or are permanently stationed. Once a Service member or their family members are enrolled and paying in-state tuition, they will continue to pay the in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled at the institution even if the Service member is reassigned outside the state.

2.    Send Transcripts. Most applications have an area where you list previously attended colleges and universities. You need to request a copy of your transcripts from each institution have you attended. Since you are in the military, you have the option of also sending your Joint Service Transcript (JST) and/or CCAF Transcript. These transcripts list recommended college credits you have earned from your military training, education, and occupational experiences. Click HERE for instructions on requesting your JST. Many military members have taken CLEP or DSST exams to obtain college credit for common general education requirements. To obtain your transcripts, click HERE .

3.     Placement Testing. If you need to take college level math or English, many schools require that you take a placement test first. This test will determine if you are ready for college level math and English courses or if you need to take developmental courses to prepare. The Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) is a free resource for military members and their family that can assess and improve academic readiness. Take the assessments in OASC as practice for the placement test. Your results will highlight your strengths and weaknesses. If there are areas where you need to improve, the course designs a custom set of lessons tailored to your specific needs. Click HERE to get started.

4.     Degree Planning. Once your school has had a chance to review your transcripts, you will be given an official degree plan. This will list the course you need to take in order to complete your degree. If you are using military tuition assistance (TA), you will need to supply a copy of your degree plan to the local or virtual education center. If you are attending a school that is a member of the Servicemember’s Opportunity College (SOC) Degree Network System (DNS), then you are eligible to request a SOC Agreement. This agreement is a contract for a degree issued by participating DNS colleges and it follows students through their academic career providing a complete evaluation of prior learning, including courses from other colleges and universities, military training courses, military occupational experience, and nationally recognized tests, as well as clearly identifying requirements for completing the degree. As long as you complete 25% of your degree with the school that you have a SOC Agreement with, you may take courses at other institutions and transfer them back to your original school to meet degree requirements. This is particularly helpful for military members and their spouses who prefer traditional classroom learning but have to change schools due to PCS moves.

5.     Register for Class. Once you have your degree plan, you will know which courses you need to take. Most schools will not issue an official degree plan until all transcripts are received. Since this may take a while and delay being issued a degree plan or SOC Agreement, consult your school’s Academic Advisor for course recommendations and registration procedures.

6.     Pay for classes. As a military member you have several options when paying for classes. The first option you should explore is TA though your local or virtual education center. Your Service may require online or face­­-to-face TA counseling prior to using TA for the first time. TA will pay for up to $4,500 per year of college coursework. The following are links to articles with other ways for paying for school:

TA Alternatives: Ways to Pay for College

Find Scholarship Money

Using Your Post 9/11 GI Bill on Active Duty

New Student Loan Counseling Tools

7.     Buy Books. A few colleges will supply free textbooks automatically when you register for a course. However, most schools require you to purchase books. To save money some students buy used books, take advantage of book rental programs, or purchase them from popular online discount bookstores. Check out Save Money in College with Cheaper Textbooks for more tips.

8.     Attend Class. Steps 1-7 above may seem like a lot to do, but with those accomplished you are ready to show up or log in to start your classes. Now the fun begins. Part 5 of this series will provide things you need to know as you navigate your way through your classes.






Motivate 2 Educate: Part 2 of 3

This is part 2 of the Motivate 2 Educate series from an interview with motivational speaker, author and television personality, Les Brown. His words of wisdom are focused on providing motivation and inspiration to Service Members pursuing or preparing to pursue their education.

Les Brown:  "You have to begin to look for ways in which you can continuously increase your value.  Studies are indicating that unless you’ve developed a new skill every 12-18 months, you are literally locking yourself out of the marketplace.  This is a time where we’re going through ‘creative destruction,’ technology is creating things that are destroying jobs as well as cheap labor abroad.  So you have to stay ahead of technology and cheap labor abroad in a global economy.  That is a given that was discussed in the book, “Future Shock” by Allan Toffler”."

Are you consistently developing and increasing your value?  Don’t know where to begin?  Identify your interests and visit your nearest education professional to develop a plan.  The reality is, as so aptly stated by Mr. Brown, that without new skills you may find a job, but you may be underemployed (i.e. not paid at the wage commensurate with your knowledge, skills and abilities).  Avoid that trap by investing the time now to get a degree or credential, thus paving the way for future potential job searches resulting in the right job at the right salary in the right place at the right time!

Motivate 2 Educate: Part 1 of 3

Motivate 2 Educate: Part 3 of 3

LTC smaller








LTC Eurydice S. Stanley serves as the DANTES Reserve Component Advisor. With over 23 years of military service, she serves as the voluntary education program spokesperson and assists DoD Reserve personnel and family members achieve their personal and professional education.

Back to School: Map Your Route to Success (Part 3)

This is part three of the Back to School series designed to be a step-by-step guide to make military members aware of the resources and education benefits that are available to assist in pursuing advanced education while on active duty. In part one Get Started with Self Assessments, you had a chance to take assessments that helped identify possible career fields that would best fit your unique skills, abilities, and work values. With this list of careers, part two provided tools that helped Explore and Narrow Your Options and begin to understand the qualifications that civilian employers prefer. Armed with this information, you are ready to begin mapping your route to success.

Although a professional military education counselor can help guide you through steps one and two, this stage is where you may benefit the most. Education counselors are poised to help you narrow your top two or three career choices and assist you in developing a path to achieve the education and career certification requirements necessary to become competitive in your military and future civilian career. Bring your Kuder Journey assessment results with you or email them to your virtual education counselor. If you have not already taken these assessments, education center personnel can help you gain access to them. Your counselor will also access your Joint Service Transcript (JST) (and CCAF transcript for Air Force personnel) to review the recommended college credits you have obtained through your military training and occupational experiences. For those with previous college credits from college coursework or high school AP or IB exams, the counselor will assist in reviewing these credits on your JST. (If you need to update your JST with missing training, college courses, or degree completions see JST Corrections).

Next, the counselor will discuss setting career goals and then begin discussing education paths to support reaching those career goals. Short-term goals may include things that you need to do to get prepared for college, completing an Associate degree for military promotions, or pursuing a certification. Long term goals may include obtaining a Bachelor or graduate degree and advanced licensure. Your current military occupation, family support system, and command operational tempo are important factors that will be considered as you begin to establish your education path. The counselor will show you degree options from local and online colleges that best match your needs. They are also able to show you how your credits may transfer to each college option. If you are considering online learning, your counselor may recommend that you take the Distance Learning Readiness Self-Assessment (DLSRA) to determine your level of readiness for online learning and provide insight on how you can increase your level of preparedness. Based on other factors, they may also suggest that you take the assessments in the Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) to assess your basic math and English skills. Many schools require placement tests to determine whether or not you are able to successfully complete college level coursework in math or English. If you are unsuccessful on a placement test, you may be required to take developmental coursework. OASC has features that are designed to improve your basic math and English prior to taking college placement tests.

So at the end of your session with your counselor, you will have a good idea of what school you plan to attend and potential courses that may be required to take. Stay tuned for the next part in this series that will walk you through getting started at your school, ways to get college credit outside of the classroom, and funding sources to pay for classes.

Back to School: Explore and Narrow Your Options

This is part two of the Back to School series designed to be a step-by-step guide to make military members aware of the resources and education benefits that are available to assist in pursuing advanced education while on active duty. If you have not done so, take the time to check out Back to School: Get Started with Self Assessments to learn about no cost self assessment tools to explore your career interests, skills, and work values.

After you know a little bit more about what areas you are interested in, you can began to further explore a list of occupations that may bring you job satisfaction when you transition to the civilian workforce. Kuder Journey has features to help you explore the career fields that best match your interests.

Another place of interest you might search is My Next Move for Veterans. On this site, you can search occupations related to your military specialty  by key word, or by industry. Once you locate a specific occupation, you will be able to learn about applicable knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality traits that are the best fit for the field. It also includes information on required education, job outlook, average salary, and similar occupations. The site also indicates Bright Outlook Occupations that are projected to offer more job opportunities than other fields. (For examples of some Bright Outlook Occupations that are related to military career fields, see Physical Therapy, Teachers, or Cargo and Freight Agents.) As you go through these websites, make a list of the occupations that interest you the most. Once you have done this, you will be able to group similar occupations and narrow your list to the top 5-10 career choices. The Occupation Outlook Handbook provided by the Department of Labor will give you detailed information on your top occupational choices.

It may also be a good idea to use job search websites to search for job titles related to the occupations on your list. Take a look at the education, certifications, and experience employers are requiring. If you realize that your current education level will not meet the requirements for a particular occupation, discuss your options and education benefits with your local or virtual professional education counselor. Locate the education center near you by checking out Find Your Education Center.