If your first step after transitioning out of the military is to attend college, you could be wondering what to expect. Don’t worry-we’ve got the full scoop on college after the military.
A Few Differences
Over 1 million veterans have entered college over the last four years, according to the VA, due both to the draw-down and the ease of using the GI Bill to attend college. But, as most of you are older than the average 18 year old college freshman, and spent the last few years dodging bullets instead of playing football or learning to drive. And as most young adults in college are testing the limits and learning how to handle their new found independence, a good percentage of veterans are married with children. Balancing family, studies and often part-time jobs can add stress to the college experience. Additionally, after being away from school for the past few years, veterans often have to spend some time refreshing study, reading and math skills.
Veteran Friendly Programs
To ease the transition for veterans, a lot of colleges and universities are implementing programs that bring veterans together in their education. In 2007, Cleveland State became the first college to implement freshman-level classes that were only filled with veterans. Quickly after, the University of Arizona followed suit. The theory is that veterans have unique needs, fears, and characteristics that may make them uncomfortable in the traditional college freshman class. 84% of universities have counselors with veteran specific experiences to their staff to ease in the orientation and transition. Specific peer-led groups include those focused around PTSD and readjustment.
Austin Peay University has one of the highest veteran enrollments in the country with almost 15% of the student population registering as veterans. When the changes the GI Bill were introduced, he university prepared by holding community meetings to inform their students and faculty of the changes. They also added faculty to keep up with the additional students.
When you begin your college career, make sure you are getting the most of your military experience. Over 80% of colleges offer credit for military training and over 60% of them offer additional credits based on your experiences in the military. Those specific training courses and experiences are going to set you apart from the rest of the student body. And you can use them in a very positive way. Think of the ways you can add to discussions in class, you lived part of history, you’ve travelled the world, you have first-hand knowledge in technical areas. Join study groups, student unions, start your own veterans group if there isn’t one. You’re used to having a good support system and you can absolutely add to it through your fellow students.