The question many schools have is “are we a good fit for military-affiliated students?”
We often hear college administrators follow up with “we’re not located by a base,” “we don’t offer night courses or online programs,” and “we don’t have a military-specific recruiter.”
None of these are a requirement to operate an effective military enrollment and retention program.
- “We’re not located near a base”
Neither are veterans. Once a service member transitions out of service, they’re no longer confined by the location of a base. If you’re looking to attract active duty students, sure, it would help to be located near a large base, but those students will often search for more flexible online offerings vs traditional campus programs. Conversely, many bases also include populations that frequently turnover (e.g., training bases) which isn’t conducive to prolonged on-campus learning.
2. “We don’t offer night courses or online programs”
In a recent study by PNPI, 70% of student veterans were enrolled as full-time students living on-or-near campus. Many younger military-connected students, including spouses and dependents, are looking for the traditional college experience.
3. “We don’t have a military admissions representative”
Colleges and universities across the country have admitted, enrolled, and graduated military-connected students without a dedicated staff. It’s undoubtedly nice to have, but it is also something that we at CollegeRecon can help solve with your current team through education and training to better understand this community.
Similarly, we hear from some schools that state “we’re a great fit for military students.”
When we inquire as to why, we simply hear because “we’re a Yellow Ribbon school” or “we have a veterans center.” This is also not true.
- “We’re a Yellow Ribbon school”
Yellow Ribbon approved programs are great and it can help offset much of the out-of-pocket costs not covered by the GI Bill®. It’s an important piece to the puzzle, but it doesn’t make you stand out in the same way it may have in 2013. In 2023, most institutions participate and are increasingly uncapping their participation, so it doesn’t differentiate your institution.
2. “We have a veterans center”
Having a veterans center is great for the retention of students – and should be implemented on every campus. We’ve seen countless cases of schools promoting their veterans center as a central component of their offering but the truth is these centers vary greatly in terms of value. What sort of support is offered through the center? If it’s free printing and an Xbox, we’d argue there is more that can be done to make yourself truly ready to serve military-affiliated students.
To be set up for success in your military recruitment efforts, you need to show that you prioritize these students and see the value in their life experiences:
- Offer maximum academic credit for military service (critical – not just gen ed courses)
- Waive application fees
- Offer priority class registration
- Provide guidance on accessing and maximizing education benefits (the absolute key to recruitment success)
- Create flexible options for Reserve & Guard to start/ stop classes when needed
If you’re willing to do these things, or already do, you may be ready to scale your reach within this community. There are other important factors like location, degree programs offered, etc., but we at CollegeRecon start by doing a comprehensive analysis of your current offerings, strategy, and future opportunity before deciding if we’re a fit for your institution.
CollegeRecon has worked with more than 200 colleges and universities across the country to build military branding and veteran enrollment. Interested in learning more? Reach out and schedule an introductory meeting to see if you have an opportunity for growth.
Schedule time HERE to see what sort of opportunity exists for your institution. Our military higher ed marketing experts look forward to speaking with you!