Why You Should Enroll Veterans at Your College or University

Why Enroll Veterans?

written by Veterans Education Project, a partner of CollegeRecon

While the obvious primary function of education is to teach students, it is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of informal horizontal transfers of information and collaborative engagement with subject matter. Adding students with wildly divergent attitudes, prior-existing information, and skills can add incalculable value to the educational process.

Veterans, and other non-traditional students, generally tend to be significantly more goal-oriented than traditional students. Having spent some number of years out in the world and having experienced the limitations of living life without education and without credentials, non-traditional students tend to focus on acquiring those skills, certifications, and degrees that have an immediately obvious use. This can have both advantages and disadvantages.

Model Real-World Application of Ideas

Veterans and other non-traditional students are often much less willing to entertain the more extreme and abstract theorizing which traditional students are often prone to. Sometimes, these wild flights of fancy are just wastes of time, with no bearing on reality. For instance, students might take Plato’s Cave metaphor too literally and having a grounded interlocutor who can use real-world experience to point discussion in a more practical direction helps everyone to spend their time more productively.

But they also provide immense benefits to those same classmates, by tempering the harmful extremes of those tendencies, and by modeling highly diligent study habits, and by injecting real practical real-world experience into classroom discussions. This experience, showing real-world application of ideas being taught, can further inspire and encourage other students.

Higher Graduation Rates

The greater drive and focus of non-traditional students often lead to higher grades and graduation rates, and they have immediately usable skills upon graduation. Non-traditional students, and especially veterans, are often much more willing to dedicate time to practicing a set of skills so as to master subjects which they are studying. Examples include memorizing paradigms for a language class or doing problem-sets for a math class.


Student Veterans also possess the advantage of maturity. It is well known that the human brain doesn’t fully finish developing until somewhere in the age-range of 25 to 30, which means that traditional students who begin their college years at the age of 18 or 19 generally have less absolute brainpower than non-traditional students who are entering the classroom after some number of years in the world. In particular, the “executive management center” of the brain is largely responsible for activating or inhibiting other parts of the brain and tends to be one of the last parts to develop. This means that older students are simply better at forcing themselves to use their brains even when they do not feel ‘inspired’ to do so. Such diligent study habits serve as a model and inspiration to non-Veteran students.

Student Veterans Also Benefit

Finally, Veterans and other non-traditional students stand to benefit immensely from their time in an academic environment. Universities are our nation’s primary incubators of complex and abstract thought; a skill that Veterans might not see the value, but would nonetheless benefit from. Student Veterans bring a lot to the classroom, however they can also gain a great deal from both faculty and traditional-path classmates.

In conclusion, a healthy sprinkling of veterans and other non-traditional students is highly beneficial to an entire learning community, balancing and tempering excesses, and introducing highly valuable extra ingredients.


by Veterans Education Project

for more info about the Veterans Education Project, please go here.