There are lists floating around the Internet claiming to list the most “military friendly” colleges. Unfortunately, it’s unclear which lists are legitimate and which are simply trying to get the attention (and money) of prospective student veterans.
With so many colleges looking to benefit from the newly expanded Post 9/11 GI Bill, it’s increasingly important to know what really makes a school “military friendly.”
Here’s one thing veterans should keep in mind: “Military friendly” is an advertising slogan. That’s why it’s best to look at these institutions with some scrutiny. There are no official rankings, no predetermined set of qualifications and no guidelines to figuring out what makes one school better for a veteran than another. This makes visiting a campus and looking critically at every aspect of support in place for student veterans crucial to the college hunting experience.
Keeping this in mind, there are schools that try harder than others to accommodate their student veterans.
For example, schools with veterans centers tend to have more programs, classes and venues for support for student veterans. Most of the time integration of a veterans center also means there is a stronger support staff that works directly with veterans every day. This is just one aspect of what could make a campus great for a college-attending veteran.
Here’s a look at a few other key areas:
Schools that specifically hire counselors and advisors to work with student veterans are a great advantage when getting a degree. A veteran’s college experience is unlike a civilian’s and specialized staff members know that.
These centers bring with them forums, career building, networking opportunities and more. The tools these centers give should be free of charge. If used correctly the centers can help lead to a very successful college career and life after graduation as well.
Schools that accept transfer credit other colleges and universities are usually pretty easy to find, but it’s also good to find out if a school accepts military credit through programs like ACE and DANTE. Even if a veteran isn’t transferring any military credit into a school, having the option is still a good sign of a military-friendly environment.
Reintegration is not easy. Some schools offer courses specifically for veterans who are attempting to make the transition to student life easier. Usually these courses will help with aspects of student life such as study habits.
Math, science, English, history — it’s hard to be good at every subject. Sometimes asking for help is a good idea, and when those occasions arise having free tutoring available is beneficial.
Having support is great for all college students, but sometimes finding it can be difficult. When there are veteran mentorship programs available support is a little easier to find.
This is just a short list of what to look for in the veteran-friendly school hunt. We invite those who have already gone through this process to share their experiences. What did you look for in support programs? And what do you think helped you the most during your academic journey?
Photo Courtesy of John Walker