Student Veterans Take USA Today to Task

Does granting college credit for military training and experience “dumb down” your college degree?

The Student Veterans of America recently issued a response to an USA Today Editorial, which claimed that the practice of granting college credit for work and life experience – specifically credit for military experience and training – may be “dumbing down” college degrees in the U.S.

Click here to learn more about college credit for service.

Please take a minute to read SVA’s response and I encourage you to reach out to them and thank them for their efforts to ensure the success of college bound veterans.

Source: Student Veterans of America

USA Today Opines that College Credit for Military Service may “Dumb Down” Degrees

On December 2, The Editorial Board of USA Today denigrated the process of awarding academic credit for military service in an article that applauded Institutions of Higher Learning in Texas and Florida for curbing the cost of tuition.

The Editorial Board stated, “Granting more credit for previous experience at work, or in the military, risks the dumbing down of degrees.”

Student Veterans of America fully rebukes the claim that credit for prior learning done while in the military is, somehow, a lesser form of education than that received in a college classroom.

“The United States Military is the finest fighting force in the world,” said Michael Dakduk, Executive Director of Student Veterans of America. “It is preposterous to think that the training, experience, and classroom instruction that molds these individuals does not equate to that learned in America’s colleges and universities.”

The USA Today article also failed to note that the American Council on Education has a comprehensive methodology that colleges and universities are encouraged to use when awarding credit for military training and experiences.

“This isn’t about dumbing down anything,” said Colonel Bob Norton, Deputy Director of Government Relations for the Military Officers Association of America. “It’s about recognizing commensurate training and work experience for adult learners in the military community.”

Dakduk further stated, “This seemingly innocuous comment, coming at the end of an article, is a prime example of the civilian-military divide. Stereotypes can inadvertently enter the public discourse and negatively portray an entire generation of veterans that are bettering themselves through higher education. These men and women are anything but ‘dumbing down’ the classroom; they are enriching it. They are the future leaders of this country.”

About Student Veterans of America: SVA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit coalition of student veteran organizations on college campuses globally. SVA’s mission is to provide military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation. For more information, visit their website at or their YouTube channel.

About the Author

Terry Howell
Before becoming the Managing Editor for, Terry served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate and aircrewman. In his final role in the Coast Guard, Terry served as a Career Development Advisor, where he provided career, finance, education, and benefits counseling to servicemembers and their families. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, Terry has authored the book, The Military Advantage, managed the content for TurboTap, the DoD's online transition program and VAforVets, the VA's transition assistance website. Terry earned both his Bachelor's and MBA at Corban University using Military Tuition Assistance and his GI Bill benefits to help cover the cost.
  • Chief Walksalot

    Dakduk is a victim of his own propaganda: prior military experience has virtually no equivalent course or training in college, except PE. Attendance at college is not just merely sitting and listening to a boring professor; it should be a place to discuss theories and ideas with others, especially after hours with a study group. It should also include a prolonged and in depth study of a “problem”. I’m both a veteran and a university graduate and I can’t think of any time in the military that translated into training in my field: Clinical Lab Science. Even taking the old MOS of 92B lab tech training was not nearly as demanding as the courses I took on campus and in my clinical year. Sorry, Dakduk and Norton, I’m not convinced

    • James

      You have a point. However, the issue rest on ensuring that training through the military is being diligently assessed on the same standards as all education curriculums should. I have yet to see civilian curriculum equal to the training received in many electronic courses through the military (i.e., Navy, and some Air Force communications courses.). And, there are some college courses that are just designed to fill a requirement. And in my opinion, anytime training is coupled with actual experience adds more value than a 4-year degree with none. Education is a good thing and I would encourage anyone who has an opportunity to pursue it. But much of the success of this world was accomplished by people who today would be considered under-educated and of no more value than sweeping the floor and that’s just not true.

    • Petty office 1

      Chief I to am a vet also. I underwent years of training for my particular job rating. My current job relates directly my military training. I unfortunately I have only earned an AA degree, (my fault), however my military training was a heavy part of the degree. Just because your military training did not translate into your present job does not mean that it did not for the rest of us. Show some respect.

    • Warren Swan

      Well maybe you had the wrong MOS or wrong selection of degree plan in college. Becuase BOTH of my MOS’ translate into college credits and they most certainly aren’t PE. Maybe you weren’t that challenged by your unit and NCO’s and that is a failure on their part, OR you didn’t apply yourself enough to be challenged in the military. Either way, what you say is wrong, becuase if you look at WLC, ALC, SLC, and SGM Academy, all stress techinical writing skills, management at various levels, leadership principles and the proper application of them, all of which are skills you are not going to get picking up a book in a classroom setting. Maybe you should consider coming back into the Army in a more challenging MOS, apply yourself, rise through the ranks, and see that PE/PT is a SMALL ammount of what is expected as a Soldier or any member of the military. Sounds to me you came in to collect some college money and hauled tail as soon as your committment was up.

    • Kenneth Campbell

      Well Chief just in case you have not experienced everyone else’s lives I offer this. I spent six months in a military school that taught interpersonal development, problem solving and communication skills. All of which were granted credit in the university I attended. All these were at the advanced university level with noted professors from universities like Chicago, New York and Colorado. Once completed and evaluated those classes were specifically germain to the degree I received. Maybe, just maybe it’s just your career field that did not lend it self to that type evaluation. I am convinced. KenC

  • papertown

    As a college graduate and veteran, I must admit that MOS specific education does not equate college courses. Even between services MOS education was not equal. Example, a Navy commo specialist was superior to an Army equivalent. As for “General subjects”, I could see some military education in Leadership being equivalent to what was being taught in Management college courses. I took Russian History courses in college and could argue with my professor because of “Experience” in Germany during the Cold War. So, in the end, there is something to be gained from military experience! Use what you’ve got and don’t lose sight of your goal is all I’ve got to say.

  • MSG

    PART1 OF 3
    I think a point is being missed here. Truth – everything you do in the military is not going to equate to college credit. True – there are some MOS’s that perform the same or better training then some civilian counterparts. Also True – some military technical specific training could relate to credits but it might be at a lower level. We didn’t join the military to obtain a college degree through our MOS’s, we did it to fight for our nation. And oh by the way, here’s some money for college so you can better your opportunities while you defend our country. A competent board was created and decided through vetted guidelines that some of the things the military does could equate to college credits. Will a degree be conferred based off military experience? More than likely not but for that military Vet who just completed 8 years of service (3 of those deployed) any credit earned through learned experience is a good thing.

  • MSG

    PART 2 OF 3
    Learning takes place anywhere and if that learned experience is viable enough to be approved by the “American College of Education” then let it be. Fight the good fight elsewhere and allow our Veterans to proceed with earning a higher degree and not having it considered a second hand degree because 12 of those credits were earned leading a platoon in a dark place that no civilian wants to go to or hear about. Or maybe a Navy Corpsman who performs battlefield medical assessments, treating the wounded while moving from one bunker to the next — while shells are coming in and under fire. Or what about. Sometimes, we go to school after the military to obtain higher degrees and we get so “dumb” like we forgot what we went through in the military.

  • MSG

    PART 3 OF 3
    All colleges are not able to teach true hands-on leadership experience… you can read about in books but I think you need to have experience where you live it and apply it to daily situations to see the full circle. So, for everyone that says or believes converting military experience for college credit is “dumbing down” that degree …. I’ll place any Veteran who earned a degree with the help of some additional earned credits from military experience against anyone who didn’t go in the military at all. What will it prove? Nothing except you’ll see the military Veteran perform at the same level or higher of competency.
    With that in mind, the negative portrayal by USA Today’s contributors in the article is without merit and any historical data that substantiates awarding of college credit from military experience will make a degree less than what it is.
    In a job interview, do you think a question will be asked how many of your credits are from military experience?

  • evilwrench

    go read the article, then go to the right side and send a message to the “editorial board” that wrote the article. I just challenged them all to a test of wits and intelligence.

  • J. Gregg

    Having been denied promotion due to not having a college degree, I do think that experience should count. Placing college graduates with no supervisory training over veterans with supervisory training but no degree is not good business sense in my opinion. Four years in the military should equate to four years in college, both are challenges.

  • richard


    I just created a petition entitled Bank Of America: Cancel the Foreclosure on Veteran Richard Barwick.

    I’m trying to collect 100 signatures, and I could really use your help.

    To read more about what I’m trying to do and to sign my petition, click here:

    It’ll just take a minute!

    Once you’re done, please ask your Veteran friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!


    • Sage

      Okay, Richard, I signed. Good luck!

  • Sage

    Civilians who have not worked alongside of military personnel are ignorant; they do not know that military personnel manage/supervise vast numbers of people, places, and things…and anything technologically related is tested and used by military personnel for years and even decades before it is offered to civilians.

    Therefore, any student in a classroom fortunate to have a veteran in their class shall not be ‘dumbed down”; rather, students shall be enriched by their veteran classmate(s) with a true education.