By Debbie Gregory.
With Veteran Education benefits being the highest that they have ever been, there are hoards of Veteran students invading college & university campuses nationwide. The findings from a study conducted by the National Survey of Student Engagement found that student Veterans often experience what they described as “Culture Shock” upon their return to the class room.
Some Veterans liken the experience to the Adam Sandler movie, Billy Madison, where Sandler’s character returns to school as an adult and must re-complete grades K-12. The reference highlights the difference in age, some time 10 years or more, between Veteran students and students completing their education immediately after high school.
While Student Vets are seldom excluded, and never bullied; they can still feel like they don’t fit in on campus. Student Veterans are often older and have families and careers that they try to juggle with, along with their academic load.
While obtaining an education is the primary goal of all students, being connected socially, academically and communally can really facilitate everyone’s learning. Making Student Veterans feel like they are welcomed and appreciated is an obvious goal of many colleges and universities. Here’s what some Veteran-friendly campuses are doing to accommodate their Vets:
- Publish information that summarizes the services offered to the veteran population.
- Inquire as to veteran status upon application so that resources can be disseminated early and often.
- Assign a member of your Admissions office to be an expert the direct contact for student vets with concerns about their admission status.
- Use the members of your Veterans task force to be sure that you are addressing the needs of student Veterans and allowing their voices to be heard.
- Encourage veterans to speak in classes about their experiences & service.
- Host panels that encourage the campus community to learn about the veteran perspective on various topics.
- Provide a space and time for Veterans to meet and bond with one another.
- Create campus-wide involvement in Veterans Day activities in November.
- Provide Employment Acquisition training: Résumé & interview workshops, etc.
- Invite student veteran groups to get involved in large campus-wide initiatives that include other clubs.
- Recognition Ceremonies for Veteran Students that graduate. (Some schools award medallions or stoles to be worn at commencement by Veteran Students.)