Education Service Office - College Information
Most institutions of higher education use a 4-point scale for course grades. Points are assigned as follows:
A = 4.0 points
B = 3.0 points
C = 2.0 points
D = 1.0 points
Step 1: multiply the number of credit hours for by the point value of the grade earned for that course.
Step 2: add the numbers obtained in Step 1.
Step 3: add up the total number of credit hours for all courses
Step 4: divide the number obtained in Step 2 by the number obtained in Step 3 for your GPA
Assume you took four courses as follows
Divide 40.9 by 13, which yields a GPA of 3.15
The following is merely a list of some of the many sources of books you'll need for college courses. It is not definitive and isn't intended as a recommendation. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Links from this page to non-Coast Guard sites are provided as a customer service and do not represent any implicit or explicit endorsement by the United States Coast Guard of any commercial or private issues, products, or services presented there.
And if you're looking for a hard-to-find book, try BookFinder.com
Audit – To take a course for non-credit purposes. Audit students do not take tests or write papers or receive a grade.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) – Many colleges have a Continuing Education Division or a College of Extended Studies. It consists of coursework that meets community needs at times and locations convenient for working adults. They may or may not be for credit.
Subjects vary -- they can be leisure and recreational courses, such as square dancing, cooking, yoga, furniture making, genealogy, or photography. Or they can be courses that meet professional education needs, such as license renewal, a professional certificate or keeping up-to-date in a career field.
Noncredit courses are usually taught by experts in the subject matter, not faculty members. Upon completion, students are often awarded CEUs, based on the number of clock hours he/she attended class. Ten clock hours equal one CEU. CEUs do not equate to college credit nor can they be transferred into another college.
Credit Hour – A unit of measure representing an hour (50 minutes) of instruction over a 15-week period in a semester system or a 10-week period in a quarter system. It is applied toward the total number of hours required for a degree, diploma, or certificate.
Compressed Term – A normal semester term is about 15 weeks; a quarter term is 10 weeks. Some colleges (especially on-base schools) compress their terms into a shorter time frame, for example, 8 weeks or on weekends.
Degree Plan – A table that shows which courses and how many credits are required to earn a specific degree in a specific major, along with the courses you've already completed and credits you've already earned. Together, these show you how close you are to earning that specific degree in that specific major.
Electives – Electives are courses you choose based on your interests or to explore other avenues of study. Every degree program will allow you to choose some courses for yourself. Some electives have to be taken to satisfy particular topic areas, some are free – meaning you can take any course you want to fill it.
Full Course Load – A full-time student normally takes 15 to 17 semester credits a term. This equates to at least 5 courses. However, most colleges officially designate 12 or more credits during a semester term as full-time. The number of instructional periods corresponds to the number of credits awarded. If a course is 3 semester credits, it generally meets 3 times a week for an hour (or 50 minutes) each time.
General Education Requirement – General education courses are those everyone must take no matter what degree they are pursuing. Each school has its own list of core courses, but most require a mix of English, arts, humanities, social sciences, and physical or natural science courses. These courses are the most easily transferable.
Grade Point Average (GPA) – Each A is worth 4 grade points; B, three points; C, two points; and D, one point.
If you take a 3-credit-hour course in English Composition and make an A (4 grade points), you have earned 12 grade points. To determine your GPA for an entire term, divide the number of credits you took into the number of grade points you made.
Virtually all colleges require a GPA of at least 2.0 (C) for graduation. Virtually all graduate schools require a GPA of at least 3.0 (B).
NOTE: Grades of D or F are NOT usually transferable into another college or university.
Major – Your chosen field of study. For a bachelor’s degree, you focus on a discipline by taking between 10 and 20 required courses in that area, primarily in the last two years of a 4-year bachelor’s degree. The first two years are primarily general education.
Minor – Courses in an area of study which compliment your major. If you take enough of them, they may qualify you for a minor in that field. For instance, if you’re interested in going to medical school you may decide to major in biology and get a minor in chemistry. A minor represents from 5 to 12 courses in a specific subject.
Portfolio Assessment – Getting credit for what you already know. It’s often called “Credit for Prior Learning or Credit for Life Experience,” or something similar. You prepare, with the assistance of college staff, a portfolio that presents your experiences, learning that has resulted, and evidence or documentation that you’ve learned these things. Includes such things as work experience (paid or volunteer), community activities, hobbies, travel, independent study and formal training not taken in college.
Prerequisite – A course that prepares you for another course at a higher level. For example, you must take Accounting 101 before you can take Accounting 102.
Residency Requirement – The number of credits that must be taken with a particular college in order to receive a degree from that school. Some colleges require a year (30 semester credits or 10 courses), either on campus or through distance learning. Some just require 15 semester credits or 5 courses. Often this residency requirement must be taken in your senior year. Servicemembers Opportunities Colleges have less stringent residency requirements or none at all.
Rolling Enrollment – As opposed to semester, quarter, or trimester enrollment, rolling enrollment allows students to enroll at anytime and then work independently for a certain length of time to complete the material in the course.
Self-paced – A self-paced course or program has loosely-defined time frames for learners to complete their course work. Most have no fixed starting or ending dates, due dates for assignments, or exam dates. Most will not allow students to complete the course in less than a certain amount of time (typically six weeks) and do allow students to take as much as a year to do so.
Term-based – A course or program that starts and ends on fixed dates (typically five to fifteen weeks apart) during which there are fixed dates for assignments and tests.
Transcript – A permanent academic record of your courses and grades, with your term and cumulative GPA. Students request transcripts from their college, either for themselves (unofficial) or for an official copy to be sent directly to another college. Colleges may charge a fee for each transcript sent. How do you get a transcript if your college no longer exists? Contact the State Department of Education (the state your college was in.)
NOTE: If you owe the college money, it will not issue a transcript until your “bill” is settled.
Undergraduate – a student who is working toward an associate's or bachelor's degree; an institution that awards associate's or bachelor's degrees; a program that leads to an associate's or bachelor's degree.
An academic degree is the most widely recognized evidence of academic accomplishment. Degrees are divided into two categories or levels: undergraduate and graduate. Undergraduate programs lead to either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. Graduate programs lead to a master’s, professional, or doctoral degree.
Associate's degrees usually take two years of full-time study to complete, something like about 20 courses. You do not need to have an associate's degree before you get a bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's degrees usually take four years of full-time study to complete: 40 or so courses. It’s also called a baccalaureate degree. An associate's degree is not a prerequisite for a bachelor's degree.
Undergraduate degrees are further divided into arts, sciences, and (recently) applied sciences: e.g., Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Sciences; Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Applied Sciences.
Graduate (also called post-graduate) programs
require applicants to have an undergraduate degree,
vary in length, and
may entail a combination of course work and individual research/study under a faculty advisor.
There are academic and professional graduate degrees. Examples of academic degrees include Master of Science in Biology, Master of Arts in History, and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a particular field. Examples of professional degrees include J.D. (Juris Doctor or a law degree), M.D. (Medical Doctor), Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), and many others.
Master's degrees usually take a year or two to complete and require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree.
These are the highest academic degrees students can earn. They usually result in a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in a particular academic field. A student can start a doctoral program immediately after completing a bachelor's degree or may get a master's degree first.
Professional degrees are usually necessary to work in certain professions, such as medicine, law, pharmacy, optometry, and veterinary medicine.
Colleges specify degree requirements in terms of “credits” and type of course. Credits roughly equate to the number of in-class hours the course requires. An associate’s degree requires completion of approximately 60 semester credits; a bachelor’s degree about 120 semester credits. If your school uses a quarter, rather than a semester, academic calendar the number of credits required is higher.
Undergraduate degrees generally have three components:
general education requirements,
major and minor requirements, and
These are courses everyone who wants to earn a degree must pass. They fall into five general categories: English Composition, Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Social Sciences and History, and Humanities. Courses in many different subjects fall into these categories. These courses typically add up to between 20 and 45 credits.
These are courses specifically related to the subject you want to get your degree in. For example, a Bachelor of Arts degree in history may require you to have a certain number of credits in history, economics, government, anthropology, etc. A Bachelor of Science in civil engineering may require you to have a certain number of credits in calculus, physics, chemistry, materials science, etc.
Your major is simply the field of study you most want to emphasize. A minor (if you want to have one) is a field which compliments your major. So if you’re majoring in computer science, you might minor in electronics engineering. These courses typically make up about 50% of the credits required for a bachelor’s degree and about 30% for an associate’s degree.
These are courses in any subject you choose. You may want to take more courses in your major (or minor) or courses completely unrelated to either. It’s your choice. Students working toward a bachelor’s degree typically have electives totaling around 30 credits. Associate’s degree students may have between 10 and 20 elective credits.
Master's programs typically require completion of 30 to 60 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. These degrees may or may not require a thesis.
Doctoral degree programs typically require three or more years of study (60-100 semester hours) beyond a master’s degree and completion of a dissertation approved by faculty committee.
Professional degrees generally require
completion of various academic requirements to begin practice in the profession,
at least two years of undergraduate study before you enter the program, and
a total of at least six years of college work to complete the degree program (four years as an undergraduate plus the length of the professional program itself).
One thing to consider before jumping into a college-level course is whether to get a degree or a certificate.
You can earn an undergraduate or graduate certificate in a specific field (e.g., Homeland Security – Natural Disasters) by taking a set number and type of academic courses. A certificate program is less extensive than a degree program (9-18 credits). Paraphrased from the University of Kentucky’s web site, a certificate is "an integrated group of courses that is designed to have a very clear and focused academic topic or competency as its subject area.”
Certificates often “meet a clearly defined educational need of a constituency group (such as continuing education or accreditation for a particular profession), respond to a specific state mandate, or provide a basic competency in an emerging, usually interdisciplinary, area.” A certificate provides “the student formal recognition of the mastery of a clearly defined academic topic.”
Why earn a certificate rather than a degree? An academic certificate can add a new area of expertise to a degree you already hold or allow you to create a specialty in a field related to your undergraduate major or graduate specialty. Or you can use it to explore a whole new academic field to find out whether you want to get a degree in that field. The courses you’ll take to get a certificate would count toward your major courses or electives if you’re getting an undergrad degree or might count toward your graduate degree, depending on its requirements.
For example, say you’re interested in possibly working toward a undergrad degree in homeland security. But you’re not sure it’s exactly right for you. So you decide to get an undergraduate certificate in Weapons of Mass Destruction Preparedness (18 credits). When you’re done, you’ll have the certificate (the courses for which you can apply toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree) and quite a bit of knowledge about a specialized field. That should be enough to give you an idea whether you want to take all the rest of the courses necessary to get the homeland security degree or if you’d rather move in another direction.
In both the civilian world and the military, degrees and certificates are proof of what you’ve accomplished and, by demonstrating your initiative, set you apart from your peers.
The words “university” and “universal” have the same root. They are usually large, regionally accredited schools with a great diversity of offerings. Some universities contain several colleges, such as the College of Law or the College of Education. Universities offer four-year degrees (baccalaureate or bachelor's degrees.) Universities also offer master's degrees (one or two years of academic credit past the bachelor's.) Some universities offer a doctorate (Ph.D.) in various fields of study. Universities are often state-supported, and if so, are referred to as public (versus private) institutions. Examples of public universities are the University of New Hampshire and the University of California, the latter of which has nine campuses. Examples of private universities are Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and Harvard University.
The word “college” usually refers to four-year institutions which grant bachelor’s degrees. Graduate degrees (master’s and doctorate) may or may not be offered. Colleges are usually smaller than universities and frequently have fewer majors and course offerings. Many colleges are public (government-supported). However, many are private institutions supported by endowments, alumni contributions and higher tuition charges. Colleges in this category are regionally accredited. Some universities are made up of a number of colleges. Examples of public colleges are Brooklyn College, Charter Oak State College, Trinity College at Oxford University, and Earl Warren College at the University of California, San Diego. Examples of private colleges are Morehouse College, Bryn Mawr College, and Spelman College.
Community colleges (sometimes referred to as “junior colleges”) are regionally accredited two-year institutions supported by state funds and local taxes. They offer associate degrees designed to transfer into a four-year institution. They also offer many associate and vocational certificate programs to be completed in two years or less -- practical courses that lead directly to jobs, i.e., dental hygienist, air conditioning and refrigeration, criminal justice, automotive technology, and real estate. The tuition is generally lower than four-year universities/colleges and private vocational schools. Virtually all community colleges are public institutions.
Vocational institutions (referred to by some as “trade” schools) usually train students in a specific career field, such as accounting, welding, cosmetology, legal assistant, computer technology, and culinary arts. Many (not all) are private (for profit) and charge relatively high tuition. The entire course of study is often two years or less. Graduates earn a diploma, certificate, or (in some cases) an associate's or bachelor's degree. The accreditation of a vocational institute is crucial, especially if you ever want to transfer credit to another institution. Quality vocational institutions are accredited by one of several national accrediting bodies, such as (but not limited to) the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology, Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools, Council on Occupational Education or the Distance Education and Training Council. Many, if not most, vocational institutions are private. Examples are ITT Technical Institute and DeVry University.
Diploma mill is term for an institution that
operates primarily to make money
issues degrees without regard to whether or not students receive an education.
Diploma mills often
require no study, tests, or papers
have no buildings or physical campus
have no classes or professors
advertise fraudulent degrees
have deceptive ads (showing stately buildings, for example)
have an official-looking seal on their web sites
have an .edu suffix on their Internet addresses
boast of accreditation but don't say which organizations have accredited them
advertise they're "licensed by the state"
offer degrees based on "portfolio assessments" rather than course work
send mass e-mailings
sell forged diplomas from legitimate schools
issue diplomas from nonexistent schools with names extremely similar to the names of reputable schools
prey on foreign students
pose a threat to legitimate institutions of higher learning by making all degrees suspect
cause employers to waste time and money verifying degrees
cost students many thousands of dollars each year
waste students' time and energy
can result in being fired or demoted at work or even criminal charge
When you're looking around at schools, deciding where to get your degree, remember to check on the institution's accreditation. You can do this via the CHEA Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized US Accrediting Organizations.
Essentially, accreditation ensures that the same degrees from different institutions have equal value.
In the U.S., regional accreditation by one of the six nonprofit regional accrediting organizations is the most difficult for an institution of higher learning to obtain. Regional accreditation not only guarantees that the degree granted by the institution meets the highest standards of quality and content, but that credits (and degrees) earned from it will be accepted by other schools if you should ever want to obtain another degree.
Professional schools are accredited by programmatic accrediting organizations. For example, the U.S. Department of Education considers the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) to be the only authority for accrediting programs leading to an MD degree. And students must have attended a LCME-accredited school to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Similarly, to practice law in a state other than the state in which you attended law school, your school must have been accredited by the American Bar Association. There are many other accrediting bodies for professions as diverse as pharmacy, marriage and family therapy, psychology, podiatry, landscape architecture, and veterinary medicine.
There are also national accrediting organizations, which tend to oversee both specialized academic institutions and vocational institutions. Some of these are the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), and Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). While schools accredited by these national accrediting agencies are generally reputable, credit and degrees earned from them may not be accepted by regionally-accredited schools. This means that if you want to get a higher degree (e.g., an M.A.) from a regionally-accredited school and received a lower degree (e.g., B.S.) from a nationally-accredited school, you may be disappointed.
Unfortunately, some institutions claim accreditation from agencies not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education such as the Association of Online Academic Excellence, the World Association of Universities and Colleges, the Association of Private Colleges and Universities, and United States Distance Education and Training Council. These organizations are NOT recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Don't be misled by organizations not recognized as accrediting agencies by the Department of Education or by an .edu in the school's Internet address.
For more on what to avoid, see the Diploma Mills pa
This is an on-line version of a hard-copy workbook for anyone who wants to pursue college studies and hasn't taken college courses before. It provides a number of exercises which will help to understand what you must do, and assure that you have taken the necessary steps for your college degree.
(thanks to Military.com)
Picking a degree and a major is a decision that can directly affect your future career opportunities and your success in whichever field you choose to go into.
When making this choice, there are a number of factors you should consider, including: your current career path, future job markets, timeline, and flexibility.
It's important to select the level of the degree you want to pursue, but it’s not critical. Bear in mind that you don’t have to have an associate’s (lower level) degree before you go after your bachelor’s.
However, it’s probably a good idea to earn an associate’s degree before you start working on a bachelor’s degree. This is because life is uncertain and if, for some reason, you have to leave the Coast Guard earlier than you’d planned, it’ll be helpful if you can mark the “College Graduate” box on civilian job applications. In today’s job market, this is very important.
Also, if you plan carefully, you’ll likely be able to use all credits earned for your associate’s degree toward your bachelor’s degree.
Another option you should consider – especially if you’re not sure which field you want to major in – is an undergraduate certificate program. The benefit of a certificate is that it let’s you get your feet wet by taking courses in a field you think you’re interested in (without having to take all the general education courses). Undergrad certificates usually require you to take about four or five courses.
The downside, of course, is that you can’t say you’re a college graduate after completing a certificate program.
Still, if you decide to get your degree in the field you got the certificate in, you’ll be able to transfer the certificate courses to your associate’s or bachelor’s program and will have less far to go to complete either degree.
Some people want to major in a subject that relates directly to the field they want to work in. Others are more interested in flexibility, how fast they can complete their degree, or both. Some lucky few can find a major that's both related to their future career field and can be attained relatively quickly. You'll need to do some research and soul-searching to find the best fit for you.
Taking the first steps toward any college education requires an understanding of the academic world. Sometimes it can be confusing and a little scary. Oklahoma State University has a great web site to help you understand college terminology, things you need, and steps you can take before you sign up for your first class.
A lot of what’s on the CollegePrep-101 site is aimed at students who’ll be enrolling in a resident program (go to college full-time in physical classrooms with face-to-face instructors). Still, there’s quite a bit there that applies to part-time students in distance-learning courses. And until the Coast Guard Institute’s 15-minute College 101 video is complete, this is a useful site to visit.
Myth #1: College is only for unusually bright people
College students do not need to be any more gifted, superior, or unusual in their mental abilities than anyone else. Most college graduates are perfectly ordinary people in terms of memory, attention span, arithmetical understanding, comprehension of concepts, and other abilities. How they differ from most people is in their willingness to stretch their minds and exercise their mental abilities.
Myth #2: College is only for unusually creative people
Again, college students needn't be more creative than others. But they do have to apply their creative abilities to learn new things, new ways of doing things, new ways of seeing things.
Myth #3: You have to be young to go to college
If you are 25 years or older, you will have plenty of company. At state universities and community colleges, older adults are the rule, not the exception. The average age of a part-time evening student is 29.
Myth #4: You have to have a lot of free time to go to college
It is best, when attending college part time, to take only two or three courses. If the class schedule is arranged in terms of your work or family responsibilities, you can generally find times and places to study.
Myth #5: It takes a lot of money to go to college
The average community college is subsidized by state and local taxes, so fees are relatively low. And financial aid of many kinds is available. And if you're on active duty or in the Coast Guard Reserve you can get some degrees without paying a penny out of pocket.
Myth #6: It takes a long time to complete a college program
By going part time, it can take you longer to earn a degree. However, many schools have accelerated terms, allow students to earn credit by taking examinations such as those offered by the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and award those who are or have been in the military with credit for their job experience and military training. Many community colleges also offer certificate programs in trades and vocations which can be completed in less than two full-time years.
Myth #7: You have to pass an entrance examination
Although high scores on standardized examinations such as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) are required for admission to some state universities and selective private colleges, this is not true of community colleges. Also, many colleges and universities that have partnerships with the Coast Guard do not require entrance examinations. The majority of community colleges welcome all applicants after you've taken placement tests in English and math. If you do your first two years of college work toward a bachelor’s degree at a community college, your work can transfer to a four-year college or university without entrance examinations.
Myth #8: You need to know what you want before enrolling
You don’t necessarily have to know what major you want to pursue before you begin taking college courses. You can declare something general such as Liberal Studies. If you’re aiming toward a bachelor’s degree, the first two years (for the most part) consist of taking general education courses. In most cases it is not necessary to take more than two or three courses in your major in your first two years. You can use the first two years of college as a way of discovering what you want to major in.
Myth #9: Professors tend to be hostile to older, nontraditional students
The majority of college professors look upon their work as not merely a job, but as a high calling. Teachers love to teach. They want to help you succeed. If you demonstrate a genuine willingness to learn, the professor will find this both exciting and rewarding.
Myth #10 College graduates don't really earn that much more money than non-graduates
The average college graduate earns about twice as much
money per year than the average high school graduate. See
Why Should You Get More Education?
The purpose of this site – whether you are on active duty, a Reservist, a civilian Coast Guard employee, or a dependent – is to give you up-to-date information related to the education and training aspects of your personal and professional development.
How do I find out how many college credits I've earned through military service?
To find out how many college credits you've earned just by serving in the military, you must fill out the Coast Guard Institute's "Application for Transcript" form (CGI-1561) and submit it to the Institute. What is an "assessment" from the Coast Guard Institute I've heard about? The Coast Guard Institute will assess all your Coast Guard training and experience and create a composite transcript showing how many college credits they might be worth toward a college degree. The Institute will also include on this transcript credits earned through credit-by-exam programs (CLEP, DSST, ECE, etc.).
What is a degree plan?
A degree plan, essentially, is a roadmap to the degree of your choice. It shows you where you are now (how many credits you have toward that degree at a specific school), how many credits you still need to earn, and what courses you still need to take to earn those remaining credits. The degree plan is more important than the transcript. By itself, the transcript tells you nothing, since every school decides for itself which and how many credits it will accept toward its degrees. Only colleges and universities can provide degree plans, since the Coast Guard Institute no longer provides them.
I'm interested in college, how do I get started?
Your first step should be to request an assessment of your education and experience from the Coast Guard Institute. Read the information on the Getting Started page of this web site. At the same time you request an education assessment, so you can get a transcript of Coast Guard-earned credits. You should also try to decide on a major (the field of study you're interested in) and what degree level you want to pursue. For help with the assessment request form make an appointment with your ESO.
How can I take college courses when I have to transfer to another area every couple of years?
An organization called SOC – Service members Opportunity Colleges – was created in 1972 to deal with just this problem: providing educational opportunities to service members, who, because they frequently moved from place to place, had trouble completing college degrees. Today, SOC is a association of more than 1,800 colleges and universities that provide educational opportunities for service members and their families. Hundreds of thousands of service members and their family members enroll annually in programs offered by SOC member universities, colleges, community colleges, and technical institutes. Military students may enroll in associate, bachelor, and graduate-level degree programs on school campuses and military installations within the United States and overseas. SOC coordinates associate and bachelor's degrees in a variety of curriculum areas for Coast Guard through SOCCOAST. These degree programs are offered by colleges and universities on or accessible to Coast Guard installations worldwide. Within each curriculum or degree network, member colleges agree to accept each other's credits in transfer. Service members and their family members in isolated locations can take courses through such "distance learning" methods as the Internet, correspondence, computer, or video.
How do I get my transcript of Coast Guard credits sent to a college I've applied at? \
Once you've applied for admission at a college, you'll need to have transcripts from every other college you've attended and a transcript of credit you earned in the Coast Guard sent directly to your new college. To get a transcript of your Coast Guard credit sent to the school, you'll first have to request an assessment of your Coast Guard service from the Coast Guard Institute. See "How do I find out how many college credits I've earned through military service?" above. Once that's done, you send an "Application for Transcript" form to the Institute. (You can send this to the Institute at the same time you send your assessment request.) Here's what the transcript sent to your school will look like.
How can I take college courses if I'm stationed on a floating unit?
SOCCOAST has a program – called SOCCOAST Afloat – set up especially for you. Make an appointment with your ESO to find out more about it.
Are there other ways to earn college credit?
In addition to attending courses in a classroom or via distance learning, you can also earn credit through credit-by-exam programs. You may have heard of CLEP (the College Level Examination Program), through which you can earn credit in 34 subjects.
In addition to CLEP, however, there is the DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Test) program, which has tests for 42 subjects, and the Excelsior College Examination (ECE) program, with another 42 subjects. The Thomas Edison College Examination Program (TECEP) is a fourth test program; it has exams on about 50 subjects. Unlike the tests from the other three programs, you have to pay for TECEP tests. There is very little overlap in the subjects covered by these four programs. Although hundreds of schools accept credit earned through these programs toward degrees they offer, not all accept credit from all these tests. So before taking any of these tests, it's probably a good idea to take this into consideration. The degree plans prepared for you by the Coast Guard Institute will include only schools that accept credit earned through these programs, if you've already passed one or more CLEP test, DSSTs, or ECEs. In addition to credit-by-exam programs, some colleges also allow you to challenge their final exams, i.e. take the final exam without having taken the course. If you pass the test, that college will then award you the same number of credits earned by the students who went to class.
Finally, your military training and experience also earns you college credit. The American Council on Education (ACE) periodically evaluates all courses taught on a service wide basis in all five of the armed forces. (Locally-produced courses are seldom evaluated.) At the end of the evaluation process, ACE certifies that if XYZ course had been offered by an accredited college or university, you would have earned a certain number of credits in specified fields. The Coast Guard Institute also takes into account your military training and experience when assessing your educational attainments and preparing degree plans to show you how much of the credit you've already earned will be accepted by various schools and how close you are to finishing a degree from those same schools.
I've heard there's a way I can take up to two years off to work on my education full-time, is that true?
The short answer is, yes – with conditions. The Coast Guard has a policy that allows you to do this is called Temporary Separation, and is laid out in article 12.F. of the Personnel Manual. Here's an overview of the policy: 1. The Temporary Separation policy allows Coast Guard members to temporarily separate and pursue growth or other opportunities outside the service, while providing a mechanism for their return to active duty. The long-term intent of this program is to retain the valuable experience and training our members possess that might otherwise be lost. Under this policy, career oriented officers and enlisted members are allowed a onetime separation from Active Duty for up to two years to either: a. Discharge parental responsibilities to care for newborn children (CNC), or b. Allow members to pursue personal interests that are restricted by continuing on active duty, e.g. education. 2. Personnel who already have an approved separation date may request, prior to that date, to be separated under this policy. 3. Personnel who have previously separated from the Service under this policy are not eligible for a second separation under this policy. This prohibition also applies to personnel who previously separated under the Care for Newborn Children (CNC) policy. 4. Members who are approved for separation under this policy are eligible to affiliate with the Reserve during the separation. This is a great opportunity if you'd like to go to school full-time to finish a degree (whether for personal or professional reasons). Since you wouldn't be considered to be on active duty while temporarily separated, you could use the GI Bill as it's intended to be used. See article 12.F. of the Personnel Manual for details.