5 Keys to Transitioning From Military to College

How to find the right college fit for you.

Life after the military is full of possibilities. You have the opportunity to take the skills and knowledge gained while serving our country and leverage them towards your own success. The world now has the opportunity to benefit from the value you provide as a person in new, different, and equally powerful ways.

While the transition between leaving the military and entering the academic world can be challenging, knowing what to look for during your search can make all the difference.

Here are five things you can do to ease the transition and ensure you get the most out of your college experience as you prepare to reach your goals.

Financial Benefits

Thanks to your service to your country, you most likely qualify for substantial financial assistance. These subsidies may come from the GI Bill or other similar sources.

But the details surrounding qualifying benefits aren’t always as straightforward as you might like. That’s why it’s important to find a school with a financial team in place willing to help you sort out exactly what you qualify for.

Schools dedicated to helping military-connected and veteran students thrive at the college level often have dedicated officers for students in your situation. A simple phone call or email could make all the difference in finding the right place for you within an institutional structure prepared to help our military population thrive in and beyond the classroom.

Look For Veteran Community

It can be hard to feel like you’re on an island when it comes to being within a community that has a markedly different context for everything that will happen in school.

You see the world in a particular way. Your experiences are different than those of students who’ve come to college directly after high school.

In most cases, schools with strong veteran communities have them for a reason. Look for schools that show a specific interest in military-connected and veteran students. You’ll find your community there, but, just as important, there’s also a much greater chance the school has the support system in place to support students transitioning in similar ways to you.

Academic Advocacy

Military life is much different than what you’ll experience in college, so it’s in your best interest to take advantage of all the help a particular school offers. Colleges with a strong veteran presence often have academic advising services specifically geared to veterans and military-connected students.

Ask after these services during your initial contact with the university or campus tours to ensure you’ll have the support you need as you transition into civilian and college life.

Career Planning Assistance

It’s one thing to get a degree. It’s something else to get an education that prepares you for the rest of your life.

Most colleges offer career planning under the auspices of their student services office. A recent Gallup and Strada poll, however, found that only 20 percent of college students take advantage of these benefits. One of the key reasons for this lack of engagement is often structural.

Some schools’ career planning services are built into the basic student experience. Many more, however, are not.

The question to ask is, “Are these services treated as optional benefits or are they integrated into the core experience of each student?”

Ask this question of admissions counselors and points of contact for each school you’re considering. Ask other students. And if you can find a school that has veteran-specific career planning available, that’s an even better option.

A strong, customized career planning element to the educational support you receive can ensure that the skills you’ve built up to this point can, when combined with a strong, personalized education, grow into a career that aligns with who you are and what you want to do with your life.

Individualized Attention

Military-connected and veteran students can sometimes feel a little lost during this transition to an academic environment. The life experiences of an 18-year-old freshman straight out of high school are going to be very different than those of students who are both a little older and have served in the military.

That’s why it’s so critical to find a school that understands these differences and demonstrates a strong commitment to you.

You want a school that meets you where you are during this season of your life, a school that ensures you have everything you need to succeed.

You’ve given a lot for your country and you have every right now to expect that the help you need throughout this transition is available. In fact, you should expect ongoing support. Find programs that have the infrastructure to assist you from day one, as well as the latitude to provide ongoing support even after graduation.

Transitioning from the military to college and civilian life can pose some unique challenges.

But if you keep these five keys in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right college experience for you as you build on the skills and knowledge you gained in service to your country and work toward fulfilling your full potential.

If you’re looking for a school that is nationally recognized for veteran and military-connected student and family support, click the button below for more information about Ashland University or to connect with a dedicated member of our Veteran Student Support team.

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