Servicemembers Opportunity College

Lee College is committed to serving our veterans, active service members, and their families. Being a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium is a strong statement to the community of this commitment. This information is presented to inform other colleges of SOC, the ease of joining, and the advantages of being a member.

SOC brochureWhat are Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges?

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC®) is a consortium of institutions of higher education which meet certain criteria for membership and with a desire to better serve active military service men and women, veterans, and their family members. Membership to SOC signifies the institution’s commitment to serving our veterans and assisting in the transfer of credits. The more than 1,900 Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) participating in the consortium represents hundreds of thousands of individuals who are served by attending SOC schools.

SOC was created in 1972 to provide educational opportunities to servicemembers who, because they frequently moved from place to place, had trouble completing college degrees. SOC functions in cooperation with 15 higher education associations, the Department of Defense, and Active and Reserve Components of the Military Services to expand and improve voluntary postsecondary education opportunities for servicemembers worldwide.

According to its website, Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges provide educational opportunities to servicemembers who, because they frequently moved from place to place, had trouble completing college degrees. SOC functions in cooperation with 15 higher education associations, the Department of Defense, and active and reserve components of the military services to expand and improve voluntary post-secondary education opportunities for servicemembers worldwide. SOC is funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) through a contract with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The contract is managed for DOD by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).

“Because they committed themselves to the defense of the United States, many service men and women were sent around the world to perform their duties. Many opted to take advantage of whatever opportunities were available to them to continue their education. Through the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC), more than half of the institutions of higher education in America have agreed to reduce the barriers to degree completion. We want the men and women of Baytown and surrounding areas to benefit from the SOC opportunities so that, as they complete their tours of duty, they can return to civilian life and meet the needs of their families and employers.

— Dr. Michael Murphy, former president, Lee College

Becoming a Member is Easy!
As a recipient of the Texas Workforce Commission’s grant, College Credit for Heroes, Lee College became a member of the consortium in the Spring 2011 semester. Several factors were present in the decision to become a member of SOC.

  • Lee College wanted to be known as a “military friendly” campus. Not only was this important in the application to the College Credit for Heroes grant, the college thought it sent the right message to our faculty, staff, students and the community.
  • In reviewing the application, the college found that it already had met the basic requirements of membership. The process of the application becoming a SOC member validated our already existing services to veterans and their families.
  • Lee College views its membership with SOCS as a recruitment tool — letting veterans know of its commitment to them. As the numbers of service men and women leaving the military increase, the college wanted to be designated as one that will be knowledgeable and willing to assist the veterans.

What are the requirements to join?

Specific criteria are established by SOC as requirements for membership in the consortium. Applicants must meet six initial conditions including:

  • Be listed in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s Database of Programs accredited by Recognized U.S. accrediting organizations.
  • Be a degree-granting institution accredited by an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
  • For those institutions providing educational services on Military installations, meet appropriate provisions of the Department of Defense.
  • People celebrating in JeepBe approved for educational benefits by the appropriate state approving agency for veterans’ benefits.
  • Agree to submit data for the SOC Consortium Guide.
  • Not be listed by the U.S. Department of Education as having an excessive student loan default rate.

In addition to initial conditions, IHEs must meet four SOC criteria contained in the SOC Principles and Criteria. These include:

  • Reasonable transfer to prevent loss of credits for those service members with previously earned credits.
  • Allow students to graduate with no more than 25 percent of degree in residency at the IHE with no final year or semester in residence required.
  • Utilization of ACE in recognizing academic credit for military training and experience.
  • Allow credit through prior learning assessments such as CLEP, DSST Examinations, and Excelsior College.

Information on requirements to join SOC can be found at www.soc.aascu.org/socconsortium/BecomeAMember.

How does an IHE apply to become a member of SOC?

“Being a member of SOC gives us an opportunity to serve those who have so boldly served us so that we all can have freedom.”

— Ray Whitlow, Full time Speech Instructor,
Specialist E-4, United States Army Military Police Corps

Any institution interested in joining the SOC consortium should complete the application found on the SOC website. Once the application is submitted, processing takes approximately two months, but may vary depending on the number of applications or if additional information is needed.

Specific information to be included on this application includes:

  • Listing of membership to specific SOC-sponsoring organizations. For Lee College, this information was found in the President’s Office and the Office of the Vice President of Administration and Finance.
  • Credit information such as maximum credit awarded for previous learning assessments such as CLEP, DSST, and ECE. SOC consortium institutions must award credit for military training courses consistent with the ACE Guide recommendations. The Registrar is the best person to answer this section of the application.
  • Appointment of specific individuals as points of contact.
    “Many of our brave military men and women entered the service to protect our freedom while concurrently saving money to fulfill their dream of completing a college education. Many of the skills they learn in the military, as part of specialized training, parallel the knowledge and skill requirements for college courses. The typical service member is challenged by the fact they are required to relocate to different duty stations during their military commitment, making it extremely difficult to complete their college degree requirements.
    “I believe that it is imperative that colleges assist our service members by providing them with the course credit they deserve for the acquisition of these skill sets and credit for the coursework earned at other institutions.”

    — Dr. Gregory Lattier, Management Instructor
    United States Navy and Coast Guard
    Gulf War Veteran 1991

     


    “One of ExxonMobil’s greatest strengths is the exceptional quality of our employees. With that, we have found that veterans bring excellent leadership skills, hands-on experience with technology, outstanding discipline and a focus to achieve success acquired through their military experiences. These experiences are extremely valuable in today’s workplace.”

    — Loic Vivier
    ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant Manager
    • SOC institutional representative is a policy level administrator responsible for implementing and overseeing the college’s compliance with the SOC Principles and Criteria.
    • SOC Counselor is responsible for counseling military and veteran students.
    • Veterans Program Administrator/School Certifying Official.
  • Listing of programs or courses (if any) at military institutions in the US and overseas as listed on the application.
  • Signature of President or Chancellor, affirming the compliance with SOC principles and criteria.

The complete application to for SOC membership can be found on their website along with other publications: www.soc.aascu.org/socconsortium/PublicationsSOC.html.

For more information:
Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges
1307 New York Avenue, NW
Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20005-4701
202.667.0079 | 800.368.5622
Fax: 202.667.0622 | E-mail: socmail@aascu.org

This information was funded through the Texas Workforce Commission’s College Credit for Heroes Program. Lee College is one of seven Texas community colleges participating in this program which connects veterans with employment and training services.

For more information on Lee College’s College Credit for Heroes Program, contact the Veteran’s Center at 832.556.4302 or e-mail the veteran specialist, Ehab Mustafa, at emustafa@lee.edu.

Equal Opportunity employer/program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
TDD/TYY: Relay Texas at 800.RELAY.TX

It’s important to join!
www.soc.aascu.org