A clearer CPL path for veteran students – Community College Daily
Virginia in recent months has improved its Credits2Careers Portal aimed at adult learners, including members of the military who would like to attend community colleges.
He is ready to go live with a second effort, the Virginia Transfer Portalwhich focuses a bit more broadly, though veterans can use either, according to Emily Jones-Green, prior learning credits coordinator with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).
“There’s a designated place on Credits2Careers that specifically explains how it works for military learners,” she says. “We use their language directly on our main pages.”
Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a two-part series about the state’s efforts to help student veterans earn credit for their prior learning experiences. Read the first article.
Launched about five years ago, Credits2Careers, which all Virginia community colleges participate in, initially focused only on the military but has since expanded, Jones-Green says.
“We are still working on industry certification,” she notes.
Each college within the VCCS itself determines which credits are awarded, as with any certification or academic course from another institution, says Jones-Green.
“We’re trying to make it a little more standardized,” she says. “Instead of each institution’s faculty, it would be a statewide peer group meeting to review the recommendations.”
Work on various parts
The state’s four-year institutions haven’t been as actively involved, though they’ve agreed that community college credits can count for general education, at the very least, says Patricia Parker, director of Transfer Virginia, housed at the State Council on Higher Education. For major credits, however, “each institution will determine whether they will accept the CPL [credit for prior learning] credentials,” she says.
Transfer Virginia, which will be fully operational in April with 35 schools and hopes to expand to at least 50 by the end of the year, focuses on higher education, generally whether students start at a college in two years or go directly to a four-year campus, says Parker.
“The Credits2Careers portal is for students who absolutely want to start with an associate degree, who bring military or industrial degrees,” she says.
Challenges and progress
Credits2Careers is designed to refocus short-term degree programs as a pathway to longer-term goals, says Jones-Green. But involving teachers can be a challenge.
“Sometimes it’s hard for professors to understand that they’re not giving credit—they’re helping a student grow,” she adds. “Additionally, there is concern that the system office dictates what should be awarded. That’s not what we’re trying to do.
Before Credits2Careers went online, students coming out of the military had difficulty transferring credits and often had to repeat core material, Parker says. Today, the portal offers over 20,000 military courses and other experiences that can be combined.
“We keep this up to date and try to get everyone on the same page,” she says.
She adds, “What we’re trying to do as a team is to make sure the portal works functionally for students and staff. It’s the good thing to work together and do as many checks as we do. We are able to talk through things [and] make quick changes for prospective student satisfaction and ease of use. »
Aim for uniformity
Ohio began military articulation efforts after a chancellor’s directive in 2011, followed by legislation in 2014 that required the public system to assess military credit for college credit, says Jared Shank, senior director of military and learning initiatives and special projects for the Ohio Articulation and Transfer Networkhoused within the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
Ohio’s transfer system is built on a common course numbering system between two- and four-year institutions, and the system attempted to treat the military as an additional Ohio public institution, Shank says. Panels of faculty from community colleges as well as four-year institutions like The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati meet to decide whether a given military course passes the CPL.
“Military credit is assessed equally across our 36 institutions,” he says. “If you have a military electronics course and the ACE [American Council on Education] recommendation is six credit hours in DC electronics, each institution will get six hours.
When states assess at the institutional level, it “enables credit shopping, and a member of the service is going to ask, ‘Why is this different everywhere?'” he adds. “In Ohio, it’s something we’ve tried to eliminate, so it’s more consistent.”
The Transfer to the diploma guarantee The search engine has several tabs to click on, including one for military veterans, Shank says.
“We watched [other efforts] across the country to figure out how to display the most accurate information with what we’re doing in the state,” he says. “As we get new courses approved for statewide warranty, they are added to this system.”
Ohio, which participates in a multistate military credit collaboration coordinated by the Midwest Higher Education Compact, also needed to spend time with faculty to explain how the system would work, Shank said.
“Unless a faculty member is a former service member, they have no idea what the military is doing on a college course,” he says. “They might say a course is only four weeks, but in many cases that four weeks is 8 to 5, every day.”
The state network also needed to explain ACE assessments and how they work, Shank says, and faculty had many questions about how the system might affect program or school accreditation, whether regionally or by industry. But the state has been given assurances on those fronts, and at this point “faculty don’t question any kind of academic rigor or accreditation,” he says. “Now it’s, ‘Can we get enough information to rate the course?'”
Going forward, the Ohio Articulation and Transfer Network would like to combine CPL searches among military and other sources, Shank said. Some service members not only come with military credits, but also with AP credits, dual enrollment, or other experiences to consider.
“We are trying to grow so [colleges] can see a glimpse of their academic journey at the same time,” he says. “I don’t know how soon that will happen.”
The network would also like to start integrating experiences across the US Military Apprenticeship Program which often parallel those offered at Ohio community colleges through US Department of Labor grants, Shank says.
He explains, “We try to educate them about the opportunity in the military and use that as an outreach tool to tell them, ‘We have an electronics apprenticeship program; if you have completed this part of [military] training, you have three-quarters or more of the credits you need. We haven’t integrated them into the search engine functionality yet, but we’d love to. »