There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States. Some are known for individual programs while others are famed for their incredible support programming for veterans. The trick for military affiliated students is to find the college or university that has as many support programs that are specifically tailored to their needs.
Planning for Veteran Success
There is a lot of noise right now about being ranked as a “Military Friendly” school. Unfortunately, some college-bound students see the “Military Friendly” write up and take it for truth. However, there is more to those awards. Some schools might have all the right programs on paper, but aren’t actively practicing those programs. (In turn, their military population is not thriving.)
For this reason, we’ve decided to narrow down the massive list of military support programs that exist on campuses to the ones that have the most impact. These 6 programs leave little room for an institution to claim to have it but not practice it. (Either you have it and it’s in effect, or you don’t list it on your campus offerings. Make sense?) The programs listed are those that when combined and utilized, will lead to veteran success.
The 6 Programs Military Affiliated Students Need to Succeed:
- An SVA Chapter
- A Full-time, On-Campus Veteran Counselor
- A Club/Association for Veterans
- Member of S.O.C
- Credit for Military Experience + CLEP/DSST Exams
- Tuition Assistance Funding
Why These Programs?
–An SVA Chapter: Student Veterans of America chapters are the “boots on the ground” that help veterans integrate into campus life and succeed academically. Each chapter is an officially recognized student group by their university or college, and provides a peer-to-peer network for veterans who are attending the school. Additionally, chapters coordinate campus activities, offer pre-professional networking, and generally provide a touchstone for student veterans in higher education.
– A Full-time, On-Campus Veteran Counselor– Having someone with a leadership position on campus who knows the ins and the outs is crucial. Veteran counselors know your specific needs and how to best help you succeed on their specific campus. These counselors are trained to help those with a military background to navigate campus life and coach you through getting a degree. Just like an academic advisor helps you navigate choosing classes & a major, a veteran counselor helps with GI Bill benefits, financial aid, navigating campus, activities to get involved with, etc. (Many times veteran counselors are also veterans themselves!)
–A Club/Association for Veterans– As mentioned above, military affiliated students need a peer-to-peer network on campus. If the campus doesn’t have an SVA chapter, no worries! But, make sure the school does have some other sort of club or association specifically for student veterans and military personnel.
–Member of S.O.C– The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Program is a cooperative civilian and military effort designed to link servicemembers to institutions that provide high quality education while 1) maximizing the proper award of academic credit for military training and experience, and alternative testing, and 2) facilitating the transferability of credits, so servicemembers can reach their educational goals and the goals of the Services. Basically, the colleges and universities that have SOC participating programs, are much more friendly for those who are active duty. These programs help active duty military when called to deploy and put their studies on hold.
–Credit for Military Experience + CLEP/DSST Exams– Walking onto campus with credit hours under your belt that actually count toward required classes automatically gives you a leg up. You’ve been learning different skill sets, but your learning was outside of the classroom. All of your years of military experience should count for something, right? Thankfully, schools are now accepting Joint Services Transcripts as well as CLEP and DSST exams. While searching, make sure you talk to admissions personnel about how credits are applied. Will they count as elective credits? Or will they count toward required courses, thus reducing the amount of required classes you have left?
– Tuition Assistance Funding– Military Tuition Assistance (TA) is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Congress has given each service the ability to pay up to 100% of the tuition expenses for its members. Each service has its own criteria for eligibility, obligated service, application process and restrictions. This money is usually paid directly to the institution by the individual services. Depending on the college or university you choose to go to, this could come in really handy!
Happy college searching and remember to always be on the look out for the aforementioned programs!
(Featured Image Courtesy: DVIDS)