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Nuclear Associates Degree
I know this is an older post, but I was a navy nuke from 98-04 and maybe my comment will help someone in the same position as the original poster or their brother.

-taking classes while you are in is possible, but for nukes we don’t have much free time. When the ship is in port, most other rates are basically a 9-5 job with maybe a 24 hour day here and there. For nukes, not so much. The BEST rotation I saw in my time was work days Monday through Friday with 24 hour days every 4th. And all it takes is some officer to decide “nah. I don’t like that right now” and you are instantly on port and starboard rotation (24 on. 24 off), or a rotating shift, or something else ridiculous. It is sometimes VERY hard to get the motivation to do anything other than drink a beer and go to sleep when you are home.

-Yes. Yes. YES! To CLEP exams. They brought the exams out to us when we were on deployment one time. My buddy convinced me to go take some with him. We just kept taking tests and getting back in line to take another until the stack of tests they brought were gone. I passed 3 exams that day for free. Nukes are trained to take tests. It’s what we do. All damn day. Learn something in the morning. Take the test on it in the afternoon. Not a single one of us studied or planned for the CLEPs/DSSTs that day, but out of everyone I served with who took tests that day, the only test that anyone of us failed was the Drug and Alcohol abuse one. I was the only one to pass it, and that was largely due to the fact that my mom was the office manager for a doctor for years, and there were times when I was a kid that I would have to go with her to work and would listen to the drug reps try to convince her to have the doctor proscribe their meds. I SHOULD HAVE taken tests every time they were offered on the base, but I missed that opportunity (probably due to drinking beer and being a typical sailor).

-unless you start working your degree early enough to finish it, maybe consider getting “almost done” with an EC or TESU degree. I was surviving on GI Bill, PELL Grant, and CalGrant for a while by attending a B&M community college, and I know a few that did the same thing to go straight to a 4 year to get a degree outside of the nuke world. Sometimes strategically not finishing sets you up for more options, depending on goals.
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