SOCCOAST Questions for Colleges Considering a Partnership with the Coast Guard
- SOC Consortium Membership Status: Is the college or
university a member in good standing of the SOC Consortium?
- Accreditation Status: Is the school accredited? Does it accept credit in transfer from other accredited institutions, and do other accredited institutions, in turn, accept their credits in transfer?
- Institutional Commitment: Is there evidence of outreach to military students? Is there a military program representative? Does the institution reach out to military students in times of special need, e.g., mobilizations, wounded veterans, spouses and adult family members?
- Designated Counselor/Student Advisor: Is there an advisor who is accessible and knowledgeable about servicemember needs and requirements? Is the institution capable of providing Student Services and Academic Advising to the servicemember at a distance?
- Distance Education/Online Learning: Can a student earn this degree 100% at a distance? Are students required to attend any classes “on campus”? If proctored exams are required, where would the students be able to sit for these exams? Is there a 24-hour Technology Help Desk available for online students? If not, whom would they contact for technology questions? Are the online courses synchronous (real time) or asynchronous (virtual)? What are the required technological capabilities for online programs? Does the institution provide the student with an assessment of readiness for online learning?
- Track Record with the Military: Do they have Coast Guardsmen (or any other military students, including adult family members and Coast Guard civilians) currently enrolled in the programs they want to offer? Does the institution have mechanisms in place to track its military students? Can the programs that are being proposed be found in the current institutional catalog?
- Non-Traditional Credit Policies: Does the school have processes in place to conduct a timely evaluation of all non-traditional learning for appropriate application to a degree program? What are the school’s policies for awarding credit from CLEP examinations, DSST Examinations, Excelsior College Examination Programs (ECE), Professional Certification Exams)? Does the school recognize and award credit, when appropriate to the degree, for Service School training and career-related experience (MOS/Rating) based upon the ACE (American Council on Education) Guide recommendations? Does the institution conduct a Portfolio assessment of prior learning? Does the institution recognize the GED high school equivalency certificate/diploma, using ACE recommendations concerning academic performance?
- Academic Residency Requirements: Is academic residency limited to no more than 25% of the degree being earned (30% of a DL degree)? Is all credit coursework offered by the institution applicable to satisfying academic residency requirements? Can the servicemember satisfy the residency requirement with courses taken at any time during their program of study, avoiding any “final year ⁄ semester” residency requirement?
- Student Agreements: For those students who indicate an interest in earning a degree, does the institution have the capability of issuing Student Agreements within the first 6 semester hours? Does the institution have a written policy that indicates how long it will honor a Student Agreement?
- Access to Student Services: Does the institution provide access to the range of student services appropriate to support their program of study? Does the institution provide career counseling for graduates of online programs? Is there a clearly articulated process for resolving student grievances? Are there specialized student services for military students, veterans or adult family members?
- Enrollment Policies: How does the institution define “continuous enrollment” for military students? Does the institution have clearly published policies regarding how to Add ⁄ Drop ⁄ Withdraw from classes? What is the institution’s policy regarding registration of returning students? What are institutional enrollment/course cancellation policies regarding courses offered on installations?
- Financial Practices: Are tuition and fees charged to military members clear and transparent, avoiding misleading or false impressions about the costs to either the service or the military member? Are there any special fees associated with a distance-learning program? Will the institution accept tuition assistance and Veterans educational benefits? Does the institution have a clear understanding of Coast Guard tuition assistance program? See U.S. Coast Guard Institute.
- Faculty: Have faculty been oriented to the needs and requirements of military students that may be different from those of traditional students?
- Resources: Can books and other required course materials be ordered online? Does the institution provide an orientation handbook or guide for online learners so they can navigate the system? Is there a Web site that is user-friendly, offering one location for information relevant to military students (i.e., how to drop a class if you are deployed)
- Spouses: Does the institution provide any financial assistance, scholarships or special tuition rates to military spouses?