Many of our veteran students come to higher education after serving our country, starting families, and having diverse real-world experiences. It’s not uncommon for veterans to take on the role of being a self-advocate as they overcome the transition from military life to civilian life. It’s no different as veterans access college, trade, or technical schools. It’s not always easy to know your first move when thinking about college. Many veterans are used to figuring it out on their own. Yet, college is a bit different because one wrong class or ill-advised major can cost a veteran time, effort, and benefits.
Colleges across the country equip veterans with the tools to navigate the university environment by creating connections. Campus leaders are starting to value non-traditional students, like veterans, by making more resources, student groups, and connected environments available. These structures provide support to veterans while establishing systems that support veterans and other non-traditional student groups.
Here are some tips for veterans to feel more connected as they start college:
- Look for a college with Student Veterans Organizations (SVO) chapters on campus. Student Veterans of America (SVA) is a national organization that offers student veterans networking and advocacy. To find a chapter near you, check out their website’s chapter locator https://studentveterans.org/chapters/find-a-chapter/Connect other veterans on campus. If you are already in school, connecting to other student veterans is helpful. Military culture is valuable, and relating to others who share similar experiences can be a positive experience for most veterans.
- Decide which factors are important to you when choosing a university. Some campuses focus on making sure veterans feel welcome and valued. e In a focus group study of veterans conducted in 2021 showed that 84% of student veterans looked for more than the transfer of college credit when choosing a college, technical, or trade school. (American Institute for Research, 2021).
- Connect to a federal program specifically designed to assist veterans as they navigate the college experience. Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) is a federal TRiO program that has been helping veterans for fifty years. In Oklahoma, four VUB’s cover all the colleges and universities across the state. For more information, contact us at Veterans Upward Bound (STRIPES) at 405.974.3967 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org