Sailors Jumpstart College Degree with Virtual Counseling, SMART


Jun 9, 2006

09 June, 2006 -  From Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy College Program (NCP) now offers two tools on its Web site designed to guide Sailors and Marines in their quest for college credit for military experience.

The Sailor/Marine Online Academic Advisor (SMOLAA) is a virtual counseling tool that eases online navigation and helps compile college credit for Navy courses and experience for the Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART).

These tools are available via the NCP Web site and expedite the process of receiving college credits through 17 accredited colleges that have partnered with the Navy through distance learning. Sailors and Marines can use the tools to develop their own degree program with the school of their choice.

“SMOLAA teamed with SMART really speeds up the process,” said Barry Nelson, director of the Navy College Center, Center for Personal and Professional Development Voluntary Education (VOLED) Detachment in Pensacola, Fla. “SMOLAA/SMART allows Sailors and Marines to literally see how their credit for experience and training is applied to certain degree programs with the Navy’s partner schools. In just a matter of seconds, a complete academic evaluation for the school of choice will appear on screen with credits applied.

"SMOLAA really takes SMART to the next level," added Nelson. "And Sailors will be able to do this from their work station, their home, aboard ship, or any other location that has Internet access.”

Nelson thinks SMOLAA came online just at the right time for Sailors. “The Professional Military Education (PME) Continuum requires Sailors to take a serious approach to off-duty education,” Nelson said. “The Navy College Program is working to stay one step ahead of the curve through our partnerships with colleges and universities for rating-relevant degrees and advanced education.”

Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AW/SW) Terry Doss, Leading Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Support Equipment Technician “A” school at Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola, is nearing completion of a Bachelor's degree in Professional Aeronautics, and is a big supporter of SMART.

“The SMART transcript provided a clear acknowledgment of my Navy training to the college in which I am enrolled,” Doss said. “It presented me and my college the necessary information needed to make an informed decision as to what course of study I should follow based on the number of credits recommended by SMART and accepted by the institution.”

Doss was surprised how many credits he had actually earned through his Navy experience and training.

“SMART is easy to use and makes clear what degree path you should follow with the assistance of SMOLAA and the Navy College Program advisor,” Doss said. “If it wasn’t for SMART, I would have believed I had a long way to go in completing my degree.

"The way SMART keeps track of your training has made it almost impossible not to get your education certified by a college,” added Doss.

Junior personnel are also making the connection for secondary education. Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Jamie Brown of the NAS Pensacola Personnel Support Detachment has used SMART to formulate her degree plans. She is presently enrolled in an associate's degree program, with an ultimate plan of earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy or nutrition.

“As I reviewed my SMART, I saw what I was awarded for non-traditional training hours; it made things a lot clearer to me,” Brown said. “The SMART told me exactly how many credits I have earned while on active duty and what area the credits would fall under. Once applied to a degree path, the SMART transcript basically fills in the blanks for you. I was very pleased when I discovered that I only needed four classes and two College Level Examination Program tests to complete my associate degree. My local Navy College Office counselor was very helpful with degree and school options, and has been instrumental in my success.”

As more and more Sailors turn to the Navy College Program Web site to select their colleges and formulate their degree plans, SMOLAA will become the tool that guides them through the process, according to Nelson. “SMOLAA is another good perk for Sailors,” he said. “Sailors will find that it is an easy-to-use tool to help them get the most from their Navy training and experience, and eventually reach their goal of obtaining a degree.”

Since SMART was introduced in 1999, more than 3 million transcripts have been downloaded.

For more information on SMART and SMOLAA, visit the Navy Knowledge Online Web site at https://wwwa.nko.navy.mil or the Navy College Program Web site athttps://www.navycollege.navy.mil.


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