5 Steps to Prepare for College Post-Military

Keys to Veteran Success in College

  • Mentally Prepare to Be A Student
  • Investigate Statistics and School Reputation
  • Consider a Physical Campus
  • Expand Your Peer Group
  • Get in Touch with Other Veterans

Those preparing for college after the military may feel overwhelmed at the multifaceted challenge before them. However, it’s vital that each realizes they are not doing this alone. There are some helpful veteran organizations both on and off campus ready to assist. As an increasing number of veterans return from single or multiple tours of duty abroad, it’s more important than ever that they are equipped with the tools they need to make a successful transition back into the role of a civilian. The list below offers some helpful tips for that journey and resources for further reading.

Ranking: 30 Best Military-Friendly Colleges

1. From Soldier to Student

On its face, this transition might not seem as vast as it is. In the military, life is regimented, and tasks or pursuits are assigned in clear fashion via the chain of command. Student life is an entirely different basket of apples. As a veteran, it’s important to be mentally prepared to choose a course of study, decide which classes to register for each term, and manage time commitments. Those who leap into their education without first considering how their lives will change can experience discouragement and may feel cast adrift. Just remember to take academic life and its requirements one step at a time, and know when to ask for help.

2. Check Out Programs

Unfortunately, there are plenty of programs that don’t consider ethical action a part of their purview, and students who invest in good faith are often left holding the bill. When considering college programs, it’s vital that veterans investigate the reputation of prospective schools. Ask questions about accreditation and check to ensure the school in question isn’t facing litigation for broken promises. While some colleges with physical campuses fall into this bunch, it’s far more common with distance learning programs. Accreditation and responsible legal profiles are two of the most significant indicators that a school is legitimate and that degrees earned will retain their value.

3. Physical Campuses Offer Stability

When preparing for college after the military, it’s important to consider which type of program will work best with current circumstances. In some cases, distance learning educational outlets are the best fit, but they do not offer the resources or sense of foundation that a physical college campus can provide. Having a concrete destination to visit and individual classrooms in which classes are taught provides a specific psychologically-rooted feeling of a foundation, which can be important for vets. College campuses also host veteran organizations and offer returning military the opportunity to engage with other civilians and veterans in a physical context.

4. Expand Peer Horizons

Even though experience in the military promotes group identity and solidarity, veterans can often feel cast adrift in civilian life. Class time and extracurricular activities or study sessions can offer them a chance to engage with civilians, an article from US News and World Report notes. While many fellow students may lack their maturity and experience, veterans can often find a special niche role in the classroom. Their skills and knowledge of the world provide a unique opportunity to act as a mentor, help fellow students adjust to the rigors of study, and also allows them to expand their peer groups to include non-military individuals. By engaging in this way, veterans help themselves adjust and ensure greater success in college.

5. Connect with Fellow Veterans

While exploring new peer interactions is crucial, connecting with other retired service personnel is also a key to a successful college career. Veteran resource organizations actively endeavor to make the academic realm friendlier and ease the transition back into a civilian world. Through these groups, returning soldiers will meet more experienced veterans who can offer assistance and advice and also connect with newly decommissioned soldiers with whom they can share their thoughts and ideas. This can significantly ease the psychological stress of returning to civilian life and taking on new roles.

Advanced education is a fantastic way for retired military personnel to design a new path. Through college experience, they are permitted to craft a different way forward for themselves that is unique. It can also allow them to access skills and knowledge gained while in active service, and provide them with a renewed sense of purpose. Whatever they choose, it’s crucial that those preparing for college after the military acclimate at their own pace to new student standards and roles.