Dr. Chris Howard knows a thing or two about Military Friendly® Schools. When he appeared on the cover of G.I. Jobs magazine in August 2017, he was president of Robert Morris University, a school in Pittsburgh that is a perennial on the Military Friendly® Schools list.
An Air Force veteran who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, Howard has since moved to Arizona State University, where he serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the ASU Enterprise. With the Pat Tilman legacy and nearly 10,000 military and veteran students, ASU also is a regular on the Military Friendly® Schools list.
Interview with Dr. Howard
We caught up to Howard shortly after he arrived at ASU to ask what advice he has for prospective student veterans in choosing their school, and how best to take advantage of their GI Bill once there.
“I want to thank the folks at G.I. Jobs for giving me an opportunity to say a few words as I transition. I enjoyed being on the cover—my mom loves that picture. She has it framed someplace,” he said. “And I’m honored to be at an institution that, like my previous institution, cares deeply about those that have borne the greatest burden.”
Here’s Howard’s best advice for veterans using the GI Bill:
Decide what you want to do.
“Take some time and say, ‘What do I really want to do?’” Just be brutally honest with yourself and say, ‘Let me try my A+ plan before I go to my A plan before I go to my B plan.’”
Research the school.
Look at the physical infrastructure the school has dedicated to veterans. Look at the programs and services it offers veterans. But most importantly, look at the outcomes for veterans. “And so the proof’s there. In God we trust … all others bring data. So you’ll see how folks are doing. Are they completing? Are they getting good jobs and good careers? If you talk to people who are at the institution right now, do they feel like they have a sense of place?”
Don’t automatically pick the cheapest option.
“Value is more important than price. What is the value of that engagement, of that relationship or partnership that you’re going to go into?”
Give yourself a break.
Once you’ve started at the school you chose, give yourself time to acclimate. “Sometimes people come to school and think, ‘I gotta be a senior when really I’m just barely a freshman.’ Forgive yourself for not knowing where all the buildings are, or how to get your credit hours … get help, but don’t get frustrated and leave it because, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m not any good at this.’ No one’s good at anything when they first start out.”
Bring a dose of humility.
Chances are good that you’ll hear opinions that rub you the wrong way. “We defend democracy, we don’t necessarily practice it when we’re in the military. People can say things that are somewhat untoward. But be open to it. Be humble to the fact that you don’t know it all. Be humble to the fact that you don’t know exactly what’s happened at school and people’s ideals and ideas can be different from yours, and they can be respected.”
G.I. Jobs Interview with Dr. Howard (Video)
Check out the full video interview we did with Dr. Howard here.
Moving Forward: How to Use Your GI Bill
Great advice, Dr. Howard! For veterans looking to use your GI Bill, check out the Military Friendly Schools list. It’s a list of schools evaluated using public data and proprietary survey responses to help veterans find schools that value veterans and has the data to back it up.
You don’t have to go to a traditional university to use your GI Bill benefits. This veteran used the GI Bill for a technical college and fast-tracked his career.