Reentering civilian life after service in the military is not an easy task. Many veterans need ample time and support to feel confident and comfortable in their new civilian roles. After the military retirement gifts they are left on their own, their only advantage is military pensions and the gifts they received. Nowhere is this more evident than in higher education, where dropout rates of veteran students are much higher than those of the rest of the student population.
Fortunately, many universities are working hard to deliver resources and support that military veteran students need to succeed in their studies. Here are a few of the most valuable tools available from some military-friendly online and offline colleges:
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The transition from military life to civilian life is notoriously difficult. What’s more, many veterans have been as far as possible from the classroom for many years on end, and the added stress and responsibility of coursework often does not make the transition out of the military mindset any easier. Still, many vets want to earn valuable credentials as quickly as possible to fast-track their careers, so delaying education until they are comfortable in their civilian lifestyle is not a valid option.
Fortunately, many military-friendly schools are beginning to offer military students access to transition teams, who are professionals trained to guide vets into and through the academic environment. Transition teams consist of staff members in various roles across the college, from academic advisors to tutors to mental health counselors to community leaders. These teams can also help universities develop better policies for shepherding military students to graduation and career success.
Predictive Analytic Software
As mentioned above, military students consistently have higher dropout rates than the rest of the student population, and many schools struggle to understand exactly why. The application of predictive analytics software might help colleges parse student data and intervene before students are compelled to leave their studies for good.
Predictive analytic software can study student performance, measuring behavior and determining which students are at risk of dropping out. Then, school administrators can step in to offer necessary support to students who are truly in need. In truth, military students are not the only students who benefit from predictive analytic software, but because they are more likely to struggle in academic environments, they are more likely to gain from timely interventions prompted by data science tools.
Success coaches are a new type of academic advisor dedicated to helping students develop the executive functioning skills they need to survive and thrive in their courses and beyond. Some skills that can improve through success coaching include time management, goal setting, effective learning, motivation, exam preparation and more.
As with predictive analytics software, all students can make use of success coaches, but military students particularly benefit from the one-on-one nurturing. By developing deeper relationships with veterans, success coaches might be more adept at identifying issues preventing military students from achieving success — both inside and outside the college environment. Coaches might also help students receive greater support from a school’s Veteran Services team or other administrators on campus.
Military students often return to school after concluding their service to make the most of their benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Though the bill is indeed comprehensive in covering a variety of expenses military students may incur while they pursue higher education, students can still benefit from financial support provided by universities. Fortunately, many schools are beginning to improve the financial aid programs they offer to active-duty service members and veterans to help ease financial struggles during and after military service and improve chances of academic success.
Students might look for a school’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which extends varying degrees of financial aid to service members. Different schools maintain different rules for the Yellow Ribbon Program, so students should investigate what is required to qualify for this type of aid. More military-friendly schools offer standard tuition discounts and fee waivers to all military students.
Finally, just like traditional students, military students tend to thrive in academic pursuits when they have adequate social support. However, veterans often struggle to build strong bonds with traditional students, who tend to be much younger, lack family obligations and lack the life experiences that come with military service. Typically, veterans derive greater meaning from relationships with fellow veterans, and colleges are increasingly working to foster veteran communities where vet connections are easier to make.
Few students are more deserving of the extra investment from colleges and universities than veterans. To honor the service and sacrifice of military students, schools around the country are working to improve the resources they offer to active-duty members and vets.