“We’ve historically defined “nontraditional” students as those over the age of twenty-four, those enrolled part time, and those who are financially independent. But today, the “typical” student is the exception.” — TheAtlantic.com
More Adults are Flooding Onto Campus
For some of us it is hard to believe that going back to school as an adult is popular now more than ever. Adults have had far more experiences than students straight out of high school, but many times have been out of the groove of studying. More often than not their basic knowledge of math and writing has gone to the backburner.
This is no different for college-bound veterans or military personnel. You’ve been busy serving and defending your country, and depending on your position you may not have needed those math and writing skills for years. But, as your prepare to enroll in a degree or certification program, it is vital to go back into the reserves of your brain and bring those skills to the forefront!
“The average student veteran is 27 years old and hasn’t studied for an academic test or written a paper in nine years. Veterans are arriving to campus without the required academic skills. The style in which they learned military skills isn’t applicable to college.” —HechingerReport.org
I know, it sounds pretty daunting. (I am personally struggling with this while preparing for the GRE two years after graduating from college.) This fact alone has deterred many people from even applying to a degree program… Not knowing how to get back into the swing of things… The fear of failure… They are all valid concerns. But, not ones that should stop you from going back to school.
Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Another valid concern and hot topic is that colleges are unprepared to deal with the unique needs of former service members.
My response to that is: don’t depend on others for your personal successes. Prepare yourself academically. Do all that you can prior to enrolling so that you are confident in at least one aspect of going back to school.
Academic Prep Resources
To help you do just that, I’ve compiled a grouping of sources that are FREE and help veterans and military personnel to get on track for success at any degree program.
Veterans Upward Bound
The National Association of Veterans Upward Bound is a free U.S. Department of Education TRIO program designed to help eligible U.S. military veterans enter and succeed in the postsecondary school of their choosing. There are loads of academic preparation programs including an assessment to see where you currently stand.
Other services include:
- Assistance completing college admission forms
- Personal academic advising and career counseling
- Help with GI Bill applications
- Assistance completing financial aid applications and finding scholarships
- Career guidance and planning
- Cultural field trips and campus visits
- Tutoring and mentoring
- Referrals to other community agencies serving veterans
With programs such as VUB, there is no need to fear that you won’t have someone on your side helping you through the process. You just need to know where to look. There are currently 49 VUB programs nationwide and you can find the nearest one to you on their website.
Exams That Lead to College Credit
One way to academically prepare to go back to school, save money, and save time is to hit the ground running with college credit under your belt. One way to do this is to take the DSST and/or CLEP exams. (You need to clarify that the institution you plan on attending awards credit for the DSST and/or CLEP exams.) Through these exams, you will earn credit for what you already know from previous experiences! This site contains online, printable, and portable practice tests, ebooks, & full length online courses.
Just for clarification, The nationally recognized DSST Program helps you receive college credits for learning acquired outside the traditional classroom. (The test fee for the DSST is currently $80.)
The CLEP exam offers 33 exams in five subject areas, covering material taught in courses that you generally take in your first two years of college. (The exam costs $80.)
VA Funded Tutoring
Another scenario: You prepped academically to go back to school, but you are struggling and could really use some tutoring. However, you don’t have the money to pay a tutor.
“Tutorial assistance is available if you are receiving VA educational assistance at the half-time or greater rate and have a deficiency in a subject, making tutoring necessary.”
The VA offers funding to eligible students for this need. All of the following criteria must be met for a student to be eligible for tutorial assistance:
- The student must be in a postsecondary program half time or more. For the Post-9/11 GI Bill, rate of pursuit must be at least 50 percent.
- The student must have a deficiency in a course that is part of his or her approved program.
- The student must be enrolled in the course during the quarter, semester, or term in which the tutoring is received for the course. Tutoring may not occur between quarters or semesters.
Choose the Right School
Whether you want to prepare academically before you have a school in mind or choose the school first, this resource is gold. Not only does is help you brainstorm the different characteristics you want in a higher-ed institution, but it is tailored for veterans, military personnel, and their dependents.
With a military focus, the database of schools on CollegeRecon doesn’t include any for-profit institutions! There’s no option to get stuck in a degree program that won’t serve you after graduation.
Simply make a profile, click on the different programs and school characteristics that you need/want and a list of schools that fit those criteria will pop up. We highly suggest utilizing this resource at some point during your college search.
If you know of any other resources that would beneficial for us to share with the community, please let us know!
(Featured Image Courtesy of DVIDS)