The GI Bill gives veterans access to a variety of institutions, from vocational to Ivy League universities. While you’re trying to decide where you belong in your academic journey, you may find that you should use your GI Bill for community college. Humble and often underrated, community colleges can offer many advantages to veterans that may surprise you.
The Adult Student
You may not feel completely like an adult, but chances are, you didn’t follow the path of most of your high school friends. You joined the military. Maybe you did one enlistment, maybe you did five, either way, you’re considered an “adult student.”
Perfect! Well, community colleges are created with a variety of students, including adult students, in mind. They don’t have the same “from high school senior to college freshman” pipeline that are almost expected at four-year schools.
How does this make a difference? Have you seen the GI Bill memes on Facebook? We all feel a little like Billy Madison. We’re older and/or more experienced with a unique slice of life. Using the GI Bill for community college, you won’t be the only grown-up in the student body.
Getting Back Into the Groove
I’m not talking about how Stella Got Her Groove Back (oh come on, you know you laughed), I’m talking about getting out of the military and entering this new academic world where cursing is frowned upon. Yes, I know, it’s terribly unfair, the entire civilian world and its no cursing thing. Ugh.
Community colleges ease students into the rigors of higher education. With smaller classes, convenient campus locations and handy advisors, community colleges are meant to serve the communities in which they exist.
If you use your GI Bill for community college, you may find support for your academic experience is often more personal and accessible than at some four-year universities. This could be a chance to learn the ropes of the college world and get up to speed academically. Especially if you’re not entirely sure what to expect out of the gate, community colleges specialize in developmental courses and tutoring to get their students to college level course material as soon as possible.
If you’re planning your academic career with a four-year (or beyond) degree as your goal, beginning with a two-year institution can better prepare you for that goal and the university world.
Since community colleges target populations such as, working and adult students, they tend to offer their classes in multiple formats and during a variety of hours. Web format has become increasingly prevalent for most common classes as well as classes offered on weekends or in the evenings. Many veterans may choose or need to work as they attend school, not to forget to mention many have families. These commitments require flexibility. GI Bill for community college can ensure veterans have the opportunity to get their education while meeting life commitments.
Further, at a community college, two years of coursework is not just a collection of credits, these can amount to an associate’s degree. You can start using that degree to give you a leg up in employment. A two-year degree isn’t going to give the same clout as a four-year one, but it does still help out the ole resume. Also, once you have the degree, the effort and time put into it, doesn’t melt away. On the other hand, if you’ve attended a four-year institution and had to halt or stop entirely, those credits can be transferred but do not amount to a degree until all four-years are met.
Take a Look
If you’re on the fence concerning colleges, take a look at your local community college. Make sure they have an established transfer program if you plan to continue at a four-year university and be sure to check out their veteran support office.
Talk to an advisor, ask questions (even the silly ones) and you might be pleasantly surprised. Even better, you might find it’s a great place to embark on your academic journey. Good luck.