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5 Tips to Ensure a Solid Start to Your College Experience

5 Tips to Ensure a Solid Start to Your College Experience

Service members tend to transfer several times throughout their military careers. The military has processes to ensure that your transfer goes as smoothly as possible. No matter where you go in the military you will find people you have much in common with a familiar military culture and structure.

Colleges and universities also have processes to help new students quickly assimilate into the school culture and processes. Schools have orientation days and connect new students with upperclassman to help them learn the ropes. But unlike your PCS experiences, you will quickly realize that you have very little in common with your fellow students and most schools tend to lack structure. But don’t let that slow you down. There are several easy things you can do to help you ease into the world of academia.

The following 5 tips will help you quickly adjust to campus life:

Be sure to attend the orientation events

Pretty much every college or university has an “orientation day.” Don’t blow it off. Although it may seem kind of lame, but the stuff they cover at these events really has value. Most of the time the orientation events are led by upperclassmen who can share the tricks and tips you will need to make the most of the on-campus experience, not to mention the tricks to navigating the campus and school policies.

Find the Veterans Resource Center

Nearly every school has a veteran’s center, one type or another. Most on-campus veterans centers are staffed by veteran education program administrators who are paid by the school to help process your education claims. The veterans center is also a great place to connect with other student veterans.

Join Student Veterans of America

SVA is national organization with local on-campus chapters which are run by your fellow veteran students. There are over 1,300 on-campus chapters, where veterans can find resources to ease their transition to student life. SVA is committed to ensuring you are supported throughout transition through college to employment.

Do Your Own Campus Recon Before School Starts

Cross-campus classes can make it difficult to get from one class to the next on time. Walk the campus, find your classrooms, and plan your routes well before school starts. Knowing the best way to cover the distance in advance will save you from the embarrassment of getting to class late.

Establish Ground Rules with Your Roommate

One of the most common issues students face is getting along with their roommates. Unlike your fellow service members back in the barracks, your new college roommate has likely never been away from home and his or her parent’s house rules. This means that your new roommate is going to be “enjoying” his or her newfound freedom – likely at your expense. Typical roommate conflicts include hygiene, late-night partying, and housekeeping. The best way to address issues before they come up is to have a direct conversation about quiet hours, housekeeping, and privacy expectations.

Better yet, live off campus if possible. With your GI Bill housing stipend (BAH) you can afford a small off-campus apartment – that way you can choose your roommate (if you want) and save money to boot.

These quick five pointers can help you get off to a great start. In the next article we will look at some tips for saving money on textbooks and common school supplies.




About the author

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Terry Howell is a retired Coast Guard veteran, where he served for 20 years.

He is currently the Executive Director for Veterans' Legacies, a non-profit that works to preserve veterans personal stories to help educate our youth.

Terry is also the author of The Military Advantage, an annually updated guide to military and veteran benefits.