Khan Academy

Updated: August 4, 2021
In this Article

    Many veterans leave the service and decide to either A) return to school, or B) start a business. Both paths have their own challenges. Fortunately, Khan Academy provides outstanding tools that veterans can use for college and small business preparation. As such, we’ll use this article to provide an overview of Khan Academy and how it can help veterans.

    Specifically, we’ll discuss the following:

    • An Overview of Khan Academy
    • Khan Academy and College Test Prep
    • Khan Academy and Course Prep
    • Personal Finance with Khan Academy
    • Khan Academy Small Business Help
    • Final Thoughts

    An Overview of Khan Academy

    In a nutshell, Khan Academy is an online, video-based learning resource. More precisely, Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization founded in 2008. And, its current mission is: to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. In that capacity, Khan offers web-based educational videos and lessons on a variety of topics – and they’re all free! While not a comprehensive list, some of the more popular categories include:

    • Math
    • Test preparation
    • Science
    • Computing
    • Arts and humanities
    • Economics
    • Reading and language arts
    • Life skills

    How It Works

    Within each of the above categories, multiple courses, sub-courses, and lessons exist. For example, say you want to focus on math. Within the broader math category, there is an Algebra 1 course. And, within this course, there are multiple sub-courses (e.g. Solving Equations and Inequalities, Working with Units, etc.). Each one of these sub-courses includes:

    • Video-based lessons
    • Practice problems
    • Quizzes
    • Final test

    By completing these steps, Khan Academy allows learners to progress from novice through mastery. Continuing the above math example, the Solving Equations and Inequalities sub-course includes 1,100 possible mastery points. As you complete the lessons, practice problems, quizzes, and, ultimately, the final test, you gradually earn more mastery points. And, when you log-in with your personal profile (once again, free), the system keeps track of your progress – and where you can earn more mastery points.

    In this fashion, Khan Academy uses a building block approach to guide learners through topics in an organized, efficient, and effective manner.


    The Khan Academy model has its roots in remote tutoring. In 2004, the organization’s founder – Salman Khan – was working in Boston. At that time, his younger cousin was struggling with high school math. Unfortunately, though, she was living in New Orleans. With Khan located in Boston, he realized he needed to come up with an effective solution to remotely tutor his cousin.

    Using a combination of phone calls and available software, Khan began tutoring his cousin. The success he had in building this remote tutoring model led to creating the Khan Academy organization. Now, that same level of personalized, free, and remote tutoring Khan provided his cousin is available to anyone.

    How Khan Academy Can Help Veterans

    As stated in the introduction, many veterans leave the service and decide to either A) return to school, or B) start a business. Unfortunately, after years in the military, both of these paths can prove challenging.

    Returning to school has two major challenges. First, when veterans have been out of the classroom for years, they often need help brushing up on core academic skills. Related, many universities require applicants to take the SAT. When you forget key high school skills, doing well on this exam can be a challenge. Fortunately, Khan Academy offers lessons in both general academic skills and tailored SAT exam prep. If veterans take a disciplined approach to these free courses, they can significantly improve their academic and SAT performance.

    Veterans seeking to open their own businesses also face a series of unique challenges. While the military teaches numerous life skills, it doesn’t necessarily provide veterans with the hard skills necessary to start a business. But, Khan Academy can help fill in the gaps. The organization has a variety of topics in its Life Skills category tailored towards budding entrepreneurs. As with the college-specific courses, these ones can arm veterans with the foundational knowledge necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs.

    How to Start

    If you’d like to begin learning with Khan Academy, you first need to sign up. On the organization’s main website, you’ll see a “Sign Up” option. When you select that, you’ll be asked whether you’re a learner, teacher, or parent. Signing up as a learner will walk you through creating your own online profile and log-in information. Then, as you work through courses, you’ll log into your personal account, and Khan Academy will keep track of your progress through whatever course (or courses) you’re studying.

    Khan Academy and College Test Prep

    Many universities waive SAT requirements for veterans. But, in some cases, you’ll still need to have a score on file to apply. If you either A) never took the SAT, or B) did poorly on it, Khan Academy can be a great resource for test preparation. In particular, the organization offers the following SAT-related test prep courses:

    • Full-length SAT
    • SAT Math
    • SAT Reading and Writing
    • SAT Tips & Strategies

    Khan Academy and Course Prep

    In addition to SAT prep, Khan Academy offers a multitude of subject-specific courses. These can be hugely beneficial for veterans in their first couple semesters back in school. When you haven’t been in a classroom for years, you forget many of the foundational skills necessary to succeed in college-level courses.

    For example, say your college curriculum requires two semesters of calculus. If you never took pre-calculus – or have forgotten everything you learned – diving right into Calculus 1 can seem impossible. But, with Khan, you can enroll in the Precalculus course, letting you work through all the foundational material necessary to succeed in college-level calculus.

    Personal Finance with Khan Academy

    Regardless of whether you pursue college or entrepreneurship, all veterans should have a solid grasp of personal finance skills. And, once again, the military doesn’t always do a good job instilling troops with these skills. Fortunately, Khan Academy offers the following outstanding courses related to personal finance:

    • Saving and budgeting
    • Interest and debt
    • Investments and retirement
    • Income and benefits
    • Housing
    • Car expenses
    • Taxes
    • Paying for college
    • Keeping your information safe

    Khan Academy Small Business Help

    For the veterans pursuing the small business path, Khan Academy also offers some incredible entrepreneurship-related courses. In its Start a Business or Go Freelance category, Khan offers the following courses:

    • Construction business owner
    • Food entrepreneur
    • Food truck manager and chef
    • Freelance audio engineer
    • Freelance journalist and podcaster
    • Freelance product design consultant
    • Hairstylist and salon owner
    • Nonprofit founder
    • Purpose and change coach
    • Startup co-founder and CEO

    Of particular interest, the organization also offers a series of interviews with successful entrepreneurs. While not courses, per se, these interviews can provide veterans outstanding, real-world lessons from successful entrepreneurs.

    Final Thoughts

    Transitioning from the military into either college or the world of entrepreneurship can be extremely challenging. Fortunately, Khan Academy offers a series of free, online courses to provide veterans the key skills to succeed in either path.

    About The AuthorMaurice “Chipp” Naylon spent nine years as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He is currently a licensed CPA specializing in real estate development and accounting.

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