Recruiting Service Members and Veterans of the US Military to Your College or University
written by Matthew Feehan from the Veterans Education Project, a partner of CollegeRecon
Attracting military talent to your school has several benefits, ranging from their diversity of experience to the effects of an educated Veteran community on our society. However, the biggest reason schools hope to admit more student Servicemembers and Veterans is due to the guaranteed Federal funding that will come their way. “Approved for the Post-9/11 GI Bill” is simply another way of advertising, “we accept check.”
Nonetheless, there is a good reason why thousands of pages of case law and legislation trail the path of US military veterans’ pursuit of higher education. The amount of Federal funding that goes to Veterans can motivate unsavory practices. Some postsecondary educational institutions have even made headlines for scamming veterans out of their hard-earned benefits. So, the question stands: how can schools attract students from the military in a manner that demonstrates a dedication to their success?
“8 Keys to Veteran Success” Implementation Not Assured by DOE
Some schools advertise that they are registered by the US Department of Education (ED) as “Committed to the 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success.” What does that mean? It is likely a lazy reference to ED’s “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” program, whereby ED shares the names of its institutional signatures. However, ED simultaneously renounces any ability to assure prospective students “that an institution has implemented the 8 Keys.” Therefore, we cannot know the level of an institution’s commitment unless they explain their commitments in detail.
As things currently stand, ED is simply providing a free advertising service to schools. This benefits unscrupulous institutions and disadvantages both students and the schools that are genuinely dedicated to their advancement. This is the problem.
What Are the 8 Keys to Veteran Success?
- Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
- Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
- Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
- Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space for them (even if limited in size).
- Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
- Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.
- Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.
- Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.
A Commitment to Transparency
Schools should begin by explaining, in detail, how an educational institution is committed to the 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success. One key to success for educational institutions would be to “[u]tilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.” This is an incredible opportunity for educational institutions to ensure that student veterans complete their academic programs. It is an equally clear opportunity for educational institutions to share such data with prospective student veterans. Such a commitment to transparency would also help build trust and a reputation with the Veteran community at large
Furthermore, rather than merely stating to prospective student veterans that the educational institution accepts GI Bill benefits, schools could benefit from sharing the wealth of information necessary to complete the essential steps required to become eligible to receive GI Bill benefits. Navigating the bureaucracy of Veterans Affairs is no easy task and students could benefit from learning more of the institutional and procedural safeguards in place to protect their education benefits.
Accessible resources that help student Veterans and Servicemembers with common problems will allow them to focus on their education and demonstrate to prospective military students that the school has their back. However, opportunities to attract students from the military do not stop at advertising success stories or providing resources.
A Military-Friendly Campus Culture
Veterans and Servicemembers often look to where others from the military have attended. A military-friendly campus culture is appealing to many and provides an excellent way to prove dedication to the success of military students without having to explicitly explain why. Building an inclusive, friendly culture that hosts strong Veteran organizations and builds connections with local chapters of organizations, such as the American Legion, can serve as a shining testament to an institution’s commitment towards the education of student Veterans and Servicemembers.
Some of these recommendations might seem obvious, but without them, institutions will struggle to attract military students.
written by Matthew Feehan from the Veterans Education Project
For more info, please visit their website.