Returning to civilian life after your time in the military is tough enough. Going to college shouldn’t be a major hurdle.
Your college should be providing services specifically for military students—it will make your transition smoother and help prepare you for success as you pursue your degree.
Below, we’ll examine five ways in which the college you plan to attend should be lending a hand.
1. Military-specific support
When it comes to enrolling in college as a military student, there are a number of things you have to take into account that a traditional student may not.
The first, of course, is getting your military benefits in order. Going through the paperwork of the GI Bill is a big step in the process, and some colleges have a dedicated military liaison who can help you sort everything out.
Beyond paying for college, there are other items to consider as you get ready for school, including:
- Military transcripts
- Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES) tests
- College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests
- Credit for service
- VA paperwork
The colleges you’re considering should be able to help you navigate these parts of the enrollment process and provide you with support every step of the way.
A true military-friendly institution will have a culture that honors and supports the work of those who served.
2. Scholarships and loans
There are numerous ways military students can score government-funded scholarships and loans. But some colleges also offer funding resources specifically for those who served in the armed forces.
As you research schools and speak with officials, be sure to ask about possible scholarships and low-interest loans you may qualify for. Some colleges even offer scholarships for spouses and dependents of military members.
Check on your eligibility and see whether you can make paying for school easier.
3. College credit for military experience
Your time in the armed forces taught you plenty. You should be able to get credit for your experiences.
Many colleges will give you credit for certain courses related to your military training or time overseas, whether it’s a class like interpersonal relations or global citizenship.
The number of applicable credits will vary based on your military experience and what duties you performed in the armed forces.
Make sure you check with the college’s military liaison or an admissions official to see what type of classes you can get credit for. It could save you time and money.
4. Honors and reputation
It’s one thing to say you’re a military-friendly college. It’s another to be recognized by groups that look out for soldiers.
Ask your friends or school officials about a university’s standing in the military community. Is the college involved with the Yellow Ribbon Network? Has it received recognition from military news outlets or other publications? Does its blog highlight military students? These are things a military-friendly college should be touting.
You should also look at the percentage of students at a school who are affiliated with the military, which could give you a sense of how soldiers and veterans view the institution.
5. Options and career support
If you’re a soldier mulling your college prospects, you have a number of things to consider.
- What type of work in the military interested you?
- Were you introduced to various forms of modern technology?
- Did you serve in the Military Police?
The answers to these questions could help steer you in the right direction when you select your program. And you want a college that offers a variety of options.
You should also note the career paths each program looks to put you on after graduation. In this day and age, it’s important to get a degree in a field where you can eventually land an entry-level job. Think about what you want to do for a career and ask how the program will help get you there.
Speaking of careers, find out how the college you’re looking at will assist you with your job search after you earn your degree. A good career services department can help you with:
- Finding job openings
- Resume writing
- Writing cover letters
- Mock interviews
A number of colleges are now offering courses online, which could be a good alternative if you’re busy with work and family life and can’t be on campus all the time.
As a member of the military, or a veteran, there are many ways in which a university can help you succeed.
When you contemplate your options, remember that the right school can truly make a difference for the military student.