More than 500,000 military service members and veterans enroll in college each year, but only about half of them graduate, writes Jonathan Smith, assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University and consultant for the College Board, in an article for The Conversation.
When veterans and service members seek higher education, they face unique obstacles on top of those that civilian students deal with, Smith reports. They're more likely to be older than traditional students, work while studying, and have families. They may also have service-related disabilities. Finally, service members and veterans may face interruptions in their enrollment because of military-related obligations.
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One change that can help is giving more credit for prior learning, such as through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), Smith argues. Students who started college with some credit through CLEP were 18% more likely to obtain an associate degree and 11% more likely to obtain a bachelor's degree, according to a study Smith co-authored.
Smith attributes the graduation bump to the fact that students who receive credit for prior learning can skip lower-level courses that wouldn't be challenging or engaging for them. Smith compares his team's research with other studies finding that developmental education can frustrate and disengage students (Smith, The Conversation, 5/23).
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