Military/ Non-Traditional needs help

Discussion in 'Military-related education topics' started by Carpathia, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. Carpathia

    Carpathia New Member

    Hello everyone.

    I am a VERY non-traditional, adult student, who is attempting to find some way to finish a four year degree. I am actively serving in the military and am one class away from finishing my Associated Degree which I'm getting ready to CLEP and be done with.

    As I research the four year degree market on line I'm looking for a few things. I'm looking for speed as I would like finish my degree in less than four years and I would like for the institution to have some sort of accreditation.

    That being said I'm running into a lot of brick walls. A lot of the schools seem very unprofessional. I'm certainly not an expert but they don't strike me as being very legit. The more mainstream universities want nothing to do with me because I'm a non-traditional guy who as an adult genuinely wants to get a degree and get to work but was less than motivated when I was younger. Hence I don't have the best High School GPA, SAT, ect...

    So it basically comes down to a few questions... Based on my limited Associated Degree can I transfer any of those credits towards a four year degree and earn it in less than two to four years? Is their any hope in getting a degree in something that I'm actually interested in, or is the non-traditional route going to force me into a stock four year degree? Is this process really possible or should I just take my GI dollars and go and start completely from scratch at a local junior college and get a "real degree"? Do any of you know of any schools that may be the right fit for my less than impressive credentials?

    Thanks for all of your help. I certainly don't mean to sound negative but finding a spot as an adult student is proving frustrating.

    Thanks everyone!
  2. TCord1964

    TCord1964 New Member

    Gary, your situation isn't as dire as it seems. You should check out

    The three main schools mentioned there are Thomas Edison State College, Excelsior College and Charter Oak State College. All three are accredited and designed for adult learners in your exact same situation.

    Good luck!
  3. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Associated degree = associate's degree. Much depends on the school issuing the degree. Which school is that? And what is your major?

    There are many unprofessional and many illegitimate schools. There are also some good schools that should suit you like Excelsior College, Thomas Edison State College and Charter Oak State College.

    Give some more information about your current school, current major and future educational goals and your questions should soon be answered.

    That 'Carpathian' should bring the attention of one member.
  4. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Take that one CLEP and be done with the associate's. As for the bachelor's, the most nontrad-friendly would be Charter Oak State College , Excelsior College , and Thomas Edison State College .
    Other than that, if you specify which major you'd like, maybe we could find you schools offering said major.
  5. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    (NOTE: The below was written while others were posting, immediately above. If there's duplication, below, of anything they wrote, above, then just chalk it up to me being too lazy to go back through what I wrote, below, to edit out said duplication.)


    Your associates (not "associated," but "associates") degree is the first two years (one-half) of a bachelors degree. You don't have four years to go to get your bachelors but, rather, only two... er... I mean... that is, if your associates degree is accredited by an agency approved by the US Department of Education (USDE) and/or its Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) (preferably regionally-accredited); and as long as it's not an "Associates of Applied Science in..." type of associates degree. If those things are true about your associates degree, then when you complete it you'll have earned the equivalent of the first two years (approximately 60 semester hours) of a typical bachelors degree; and, if so, then it should be no problem taking that associates and transferring it into virtually any bachelors program that provides the next 60 hours (the third and fourth years of study) of a typical 120-semester-hour bachedlors degree.

    Just make sure that the bachelors degree you select is accredited by an agency that's USDE- and/or CHEA-approved.

    Southwestern College of Winfield Kansas is particularly well-suited to those in your situation (i.e., those who are in the military and have just completed an associates degree and are now wanting to move on into a 100% distance learning, regionally-accredited bachelors program). Southwestern offers several approximately-60-hour bachelors-degree-completion programs created just for people in your kind of situation. Normally I'd refer you to this web page on the Southwestern site; but since you're in the military, Southwestern's eArmyU web pages would probably be more appropriate.

    But Southwestern is only one of many accredited bachelors programs into which you could easily transfer your associates degree. Consult the eArmyU web site to begin to learn about it.

    As long as the institution can be found in this database, then it's accredited by a USDE- and/or CHEA-approved agency is is, therefore, legit.

    Perhaps you're approaching traditional, brick-and-mortar institutions with no distance learning programs at all. Those kinds of placed can be almost hostile to non-traditional learners. But don't worry about them. They're just a tiny fraction of what's available to you out there if you just learn how to look for it.

    Once you get your associates, the high school performance will probably no longer matter to most institutions. They'll be looking at how well you did in the associates program and that's pretty much it. You're about to get a college degree -- albeit only an associates for the moment -- so it's time to start thinking like a college, and not a high school, graduate.

    When distance learning was still kind of a new thing to many universities, a bachelor of "General Studies" degree completion type of degree was often the only thing available. And some distance education bachelors programs are still that way. However, these days, it's possible to get an affordable, accredited bachelors 100% via distance learning in just about anything! Fear not.

    So... wait... then are you saying that your associates is not from an institution that's accredited by a USDE- and/or CHEA-approved agency? If not, then scratch at least some of what I wrote above. If your associates is not accredited, then you'll have a very rough time using it to get into an accredited bachelors program. You may have to start at least fairly close to "all over again." That said, there are ways that you can convert your knowledge and experience into college credit through what are called "Proior Learning Assessments" (PLA); or by taking CLEP and/or DANTES exams. But the fact that you said you were going to CLEP-out of your last course for your associates made me think you were probably in an accredited associates program. Are you, or are you not? If you don't know, look-up your college/university on the CHEA web site. If it's listed there, it's accredited by at least one of the USDE- and/or CHEA-approved agencies. If so, then you're probably okay to just move into the equivalent of your third year of college in a 120-hour bachelors program wherein your associates is the first 60 hours, and the bachelors program itself is the second 60 hours, for a total of 120 hours.

    Maybe you should tell us precisely what are your credentials, and we'll tell you how impressive (or unimpressive, as the case may be) they are. Precisely where is your soon-to-be-completed associates degree from? And what's it in? Can you point us toward the university's web page which describes the degree?

    You've probably come to the right place to make those feelings go away. Hope what I've written so far helps. Others, I'm sure, will chime-in also.
  6. Carpathia

    Carpathia New Member

    Thank you all for your comments. They are much appreciated. Some of the advice has been hopeful other bits of it not so hopeful as again my credentials or lack their of are going to probably eliminate me from many options.

    My Associates degree is from the Community College of the Air Force. It is in the dreaded Applied Science realm. This seems to be the kiss of death. Which by the way is very disconcerting as I earned much of it while studying to become a cardiopulmonary technician in the USAF where I currently work in direct contact with patients hearts and lungs in a Cardiac Cath Lab. Anyway, that's what my Associates degree is in. The bulk of that degree is made up of classes taken in the USAF towards my occupational specialty (Cardiopulmonary/Respiratory Therapy), CLEPS/DANTES, and a few classes at a junior college. I get the vague feeling that much of this is absolutely worthless in terms of applying it to a four year degree which takes me back to my thoughts about the best option being to start all the way over at a junior college. Which again, would be very disconcerting.

    As to ultimate desire, (which could very well be a VERY long way off based on my limited credits) would be to have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy or English.

    That's my story. Any advice?

  7. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    Thomas Edison State College (TESC) may offer you some hope. Their own Associate in Applied Science (AAS) offers a major in Applied Health Studies. The page says some but not all courses in the AAS can be applied to the college's bachelor degrees.

    Associate in Applied Science

    TESC is RA and you can earn in BA in Philosophy or English. All hope is not lost.
  8. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Any CLEP/DANTES tests applicable to a degree should suffice at the three schools mentioned. The one Excelsior College exception would be the English Comp. CLEP tests. Excelsior does not accept those.

    Buck up, troop, you're probably in better shape than you think.


    Go to whatever the AF calls their education unit and make inquiries about transferring your credits. Someone there should be familiar with your situation and probably with schools like Excelsior. If not then you are speaking to the wrong person.

    The Excelsior College website, , allows non-students to create an account for the purpose of checking them out. You can get from that site a form allowing you to match your credits against their degree requirements. Work that form but with the understanding that your results are not binding on Excelsior College. You should get from that a pretty good idea of where you stand.
  9. Carpathia

    Carpathia New Member


    Thank you so much for that post and link. That is very promising! I've already sent them an email and will f/u with a call tomorrow.

  10. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck


    Kudos on sticking through the CCAF stuff. Along the way you have completed some CDC or other courses and these may carry some academic weight. Go to :

    use the CDC number for searching.

    Make sure before you leave the Air Force that you have those completion certificates in hand. Also make sure that you have your training NCO look up the ACE recommendations including the course hours. You may decide that the Portfolio process as explained at could be utilized.

    Good luck,

  11. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    Not a problem, Gary. Let us know what you ultimately decide.
  12. AGS

    AGS New Member

    Be Positive

    After you get your BA from Thomas Edison ; you can get into med school .......

    take one step at a time ...I heard an invasive cardiologist makes big bucks with the future growth of elderly people in the US will never run out work or money in the civilian sector .....

    Just be positive .......

    I have learned from this board alot ..... I have learned you can take the GRE ..... this will give you 30 semester credit hours in a excelsior but you need to score the above 80th percentile which could be difficult ....

    the clep tests arent that difficult when you study them ......

    however everything takes time and practice ....

    if you want to get into med school ; you need a science with a lab from a community college ......

    bio chem organic chem and physics ...however , you can just take the lab instead and do the exams like the gre biology or biochem .....

    and take the others at the community college ...

    you need to work this out with a counselor at the community college and work with the people at Thomas Edison or Excelsior .....

    But be positive dont need to be a rocket a scientist ..just take one step at a time ....
  13. Carpathia

    Carpathia New Member

    Thanks again for the information everyone. It really does help.

    A few notes... Someone commented on the CCAF. Dealing with the CCAF and the education offices at least at my base has been a real struggle. Ultimately they just try to divert you to a website or brush you off. I've yet to find anyone who is really interested in helping service folks meet their specific educational goals on my base. So it's really a lonely road in working this stuff out.

    Finally, the staying positive thing is indeed important. I know I need to work on that one! When I was eighteen and could have made some smart choices about studying and college I didn't. Now that I'm thirty and really want to study and get down to work, it's a real process. That being said, you all have provided a HUGE amount of resources already and I'm going to be working emails and phone calls to see what I can do. I definitely put up a post with some updates as they happen.

    Many thanks!
  14. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member


    Acadia University (BG15, 153)
    American Military University (BG15, 97)
    Athabasca University (BG15, 98)
    Burlington College (BG15, 156)
    Caldwell College (BG15, 156)
    Christopher Newport University (BG15, 105)
    University of Houston (BG15, 137)
    Judson College (BG15, 117)
    University of London (BG15, 138)
    Madurai Kamaraj University (BG15, 120)
    Mary Baldwin College (BG15, 162)
    Murdoch University (BG15, 123)
    University of New England (BG15, 141)
    Open University and Open College (BG15, 126)
    University of Pretoria (BG15, 143)
    Queens University (BG15, 128)
    Saint Mary of the Woods College (BG15, 170)
    University of Saskatchewan (BG15, 144)
    Southern New Hampshire University (BG15, 130)
    Southwestern Adventist University (BG15, 173)
    Stephens College (BG15, 174)
    Thomas Edison State College (BG15, 133)
    Union Institute & University (BG15, 175)
    Utah State University (BG15, 150)
    University of Saskatchewan (BG15, 144)
    University of Waterloo (BG15, 148)


    American Military University (BG15, 97)
    Charter Oak State College (BG15, 104)
    Christopher Newport University (BG15, 105)
    Eastern Oregon University (BG15, 109)
    University of London (BG15, 138)
    Mary Baldwin College (BG15, 162)
    Murdoch University (BG15, 123)
    University of New England (BG15, 141)
    Queens University (BG15, 128)
    University of Saskatchewan (BG15, 144)
    Stephens College (BG15, 174)
    Thomas Edison State College (BG15, 133)
    University of Waterloo (BG15, 148)
  15. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    If you're talking about this place, then your associates is regionally accredited. So, if that's, indeed, where it's from, then you have no worries on the accreditation front. Most any regionally-accredited distance learning bachelors program will take most, or all, of the 60 hours of your associates degree in transfer. Now, that said, whether said associates degree will count toward the entire first two years of a typical four-year bachelors program is another question altogether. And the reason it's a question is because yours is the "Associate of Applied Science in..." type of associates degree. But, even with that, "dreaded" is hardly the way that you should be referring to, or thinking of, it. Keep reading...

    Gary, please... relax! You're in much, much better shape than you apparently realize.

    An "Associate of Applied Science in..." is an associates degree, just like an "Associate of Science in..." or an "Associate of Arts in..." is an associates degree. The only thing that makes the applied science version of an associates degree potentially troublesome is that the applied science version typically has fewer "general education" credits in it. A typical associates degree is 60 hours... or thereabouts. With a regular associates degree, anywhere from 30 to 39 -- sometimes as many as 42 --- hours of those 60 hours are in "general education" coursework. With an "applied science" associates degree, the amount of "general education" coursework is typically less than 30 hours... sometimes only 15 to 20 hours.

    So, all this means is that your associates degree is a little top-heavy in 200-level courses that would normally be electives (either major-specific or general electives) in a typical bachelors degree. All you have to do to get your associates up-to-par with a normal associates degree is figure out how many "general education" courses you've taken, and in what areas, and either take whichever additional courses, or pass whichever CLEP or DANTES exams, will round-up your body of "general education" courses to around 30 to 39 hours (or thereabouts).

    Most regular associates programs (or, if one skips the associates and just goes straight into a bachelors program, then most bachelors programs) requires a body of "general education" coursework that typically breaks down something like this:
    • English Composition (two 3-hour courses = 6 semester hours)
    • Humanities (two 3-hour courses = 6 semester hours)
    • Social Science (two 3-hour courses = 6 semester hours)
    • Math (one 3-hour course = 3 semester hours)
    • Science (two 3-hour courses = 6 semester hours)
    • Electives (12 hours, or 4 additonall courses, from any of the above areas)
    for a grand total of 39 (or so) hours. The following five CLEP exams:
    1. English Composition (or Composition with Essay) (6 hours)
    2. Humanities (6 hours)
    3. College Mathematics (3 hours)
    4. Natural Sciences (6 hours)
    5. Social Sciences and History (6 hours)[/list=1]are commonly used to knock-out at least 27 of those approximately 30 to 39 hours of "general education" coursework; with other CLEP -- and several DANTES -- exams typically useful for purposes of rounding one's "general education" requirements up to the required 30 to 39 (or so) hours. Or you could just take whatever additional distance education courses are necessary to round-out your body of general education coursework until it's acceptable to whatever bachelors program you enter.

      So, Gary... your "applied science" associates is just fine. There's nothing "dreaded" about it. It simply may need to be augmented with another 10 to 15 hours worth of "general education" coursework (or CLEP/DANTES exams, as appropriate)... nothing more.

      I say, again: Relax! Knocking-out those additional courses (or taking the appropriate CLEP/DANTES exams) will be a piece-o-cake for you. Everything will work out just fine. Just figure out what your associates degree is lacking, and then take care of it quickly. You'll be ready to enter a bachelors program to knock-out your last 60 or so hours in no time; or you could enter a bachelors prorgam now, and just take from the institution which offers it whatever additional courses you'll need to round-out your body of "general education" courses until you have 39 (or so) hours worth of them. Doing so may or may not mean that you'll end-up, when all is said and done, with a bachelors degree that's made-up of more than the normal 120 hours of credits that are required for a typical bachelors. But, so what! A 130- or 140-hour bachelors never hurt anyone!
  16. Michael Lloyd

    Michael Lloyd New Member

    In addition to the other many fine suggestions above, Southern Illinois University ( is very popular with the military, and they have a lot of experience working with military students.

    My wife got her undergrad via distance learning through the Carbondale campus while on active duty in the Navy, and got her MHA from Chapman (another very military friendly university) after she retired.
  17. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    sniffs air, blinks, scowls...

    What's this Carpathia business? :eek:

    Janko Preotul
  18. CoachTurner

    CoachTurner Member

    I just learned of this caveat this semester at a B&M in SC.

    If you go the route of B&M or a DL that offers federal financial aid (and possibly VA benefits as well) -- there is a formula used to determine whether you are making satisfactory progress. There comes a point somewhere between 160 - 180 hours that you are deemed to not be making satisfactory progress and have elected to become a professional student.

    Also, you comment that you don't get alot of help and support from the base education office et al.

    Expect that you won't -- not that you shouldn't. Take whatever steps are needed that allows you to completely understand what you need to do and where you can do it. Almost every college expects students to take full responsibility for their own academic career.

    AND; take whatever CLEP and DANTES exams you can while you are on active duty -- they're free! Take everything! You may just pass... :D

    Excelsior College (private DL) has been VERY receptive to my status as a 43 year old nontrad. student with a widely varied military career and credit from all over the place. They haven't been very "hand-holding" though. I have to tell them what I want, then they either agree or not.

    Coastal Carolina University (state B&M) has been very nontraditional student unfriendly. They were limited in transfer of both exam and RA classroom credit -- they don't understand the needs of adult students -- they just aren't geared towards me. BUT; I've had a blast here! I just have to tell them what I want too...
  19. Jigamafloo

    Jigamafloo New Member


    Another point to consider - if you've attended Airman Leadership School, the NCO Academy, 7 Level school, or ANY other advanced training, submit them to your education office for additional credit on your CCAF transcript. You would be surprised how many schools accept these credits in addition to your degree. You're submitting a transcript from a regionally accredited college, so often times the credits simply transfer in.

    Bellevue took mine at face value (CCAF degree + 12 hours or so for advanced PME and career field training), and several B&M schools in San Antonio (I'm stationed at Lackland AFB) do the same. Just as others have told you in responses to your post, STOP worrying, and don't sell the CCAF A.A.S. short - any regionally accredited degree is worth the investment.
  20. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Another CCAF grad I know of got his PhD at Union Institute and is very famous.

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