SOC employs an Academic Counseling Coordinator to serve as the organization’s front-line adviser for addressing routine concerns and questions from military students and their family members, college officials, military education personnel, and the general public as well as addressing academic or policy issues impacting a student’s academic record or progress.
In some situations SOC staff serve as the ombudsman or mediator, helping students resolve academic issues with their SOC DNS or CTE home college. At the request of the military student, SOC staff members explain the circumstances, research and document the facts related to the student issue or complaint, and then work with the student and institutional representative to identify solutions that will be in the best interest of both the servicemember and higher education institution. SOC has an excellent track record of helping servicemembers address and resolve discrepancies or policy interpretations with academic institutions. Servicemembers and institutional representatives can initiate contact directly with SOC’s Academic Counseling Coordinator to discuss an issue or concern they have about college enrollment.
Please note: the Academic Counseling Coordinator does not replace or substitute for a student’s academic adviser, Veterans Affairs representative, or Education Services Officer (ESO). If the seriousness of the situation warrants, military students, education services offices, counselors, and institutions can also file a formal grievance or complaint through DoD’s Postsecondary Education Complaint System (PECS).
Advocacy and the SOC Degree Network System
SOC personnel also advocate for military students who participate in the SOC DNS on academic matters related to satisfying degree requirements. Chapter 2 of the SOC Degree Network System Handbook provides detailed information about the importance of the SOC DNS Student Agreement and the policies and requirements governing its use.
Student Agreements are issued to active duty servicemembers (not veterans), their spouses, and eligible adult children. National Guard members and reserve components called to active duty can also receive Student Agreements. The Student Agreement provides the military student with:
- a clearly defined degree plan in a standard format that is recognized by military educators and academic institutions working with military voluntary education programs;
- an official evaluation of all previously completed credit applicable to the degree, including transfer credit from other colleges and universities, and non-traditional forms of credit from military training courses, military occupational experience, and nationally recognized testing programs;
- an identification of remaining degree requirements that will help the student determine how best to complete the degree;
- protection against changing college degree requirements or policies while the Student Agreement is in effect; and
- an identification of guaranteed-transfer credit for specific courses from SOC DNS institutions with assigned SOC DNS Course Category Codes for these courses.
Colleges participating in the SOC DNS are required to issue a Student Agreement to military students enrolled in SOC DNS degree programs at their institution. The Student Agreement is an official evaluation of a student’s prior education and experience as it applies to his or her degree program. It gives the student a degree plan showing the courses and other requirements needed to complete the degree, and serves as a “contract-for-degree” between the home college and the student. This contract is the student’s guarantee that he or she will be awarded the degree by the home college when all stated requirements have been met.
Changes to the Student Agreement
Student Agreements may be altered for a limited number of reasons that are generally beyond the control of the institution. Examples include:
- changes that are required by accreditation bodies;
- changes mandated by state higher education authority; and
- changes to state licensure or certification requirements.
Usually these types of modifications should only affect courses not yet taken by the student. Documentation of these changes may be required upon request from SOC and the military education center. They do not invalidate the Student Agreement nor reset the time to degree completion outlined in Chapter 3 of the SOC Degree Network System Handbooks. If issues arise in which a SOC DNS college informs a student of changes to their degree plan, SOC personnel will advocate on the military student’s behalf to resolve the issue.
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