Military Connection: Colleges Choices for Veterans: By Debbie Gregory
Veterans who are looking to use their education benefits hear a lot about which schools are the best. Many schools have the reputation as all around good academic school, or their notoriety make come from a featured degree program, such as a business degree or nursing program. Publications may say that certain schools are better for Veteran students than others. But are those claims true? How are Veterans supposed to decipher all of the conflicting information about where they should go to school?
There isn’t one single institution that should be universally recognized as being “the best” school for Veterans. In fact, Veterans need to take several components into consideration before deciding on a school.
The first thing to consider is what degree program they want to pursue. If a Veteran student is going for an associate’s degree, they may be better off enrolling in the community college closest to them, unless they have other options within a reasonable distance.
For a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree program, Veteran students should have an idea of the major or majors that they want to study, or at least have it narrowed down. If they don’t, they might want to consider a semester or two at a community college. Once a major is selected, start shopping around colleges that have degree programs in that major.
Researching can begin by looking at the school’s website. Look up the degree or major, and it should show what the school offers. Not every degree program is the same from school to school, even if they are the same degree in the same subject. If the school’s degree program meets all requirements, it should be added to the list of prospective schools.
Once Veteran students have a list of three or four schools, other criteria can be added to the selection process:
- Location: Is commuting to or living on this campus feasible?
- Price: Is the school’s tuition within the student’s benefit? If it’s out of the student’s state of residence, does it charge out-of-state fees?
- Duration: Does the degree program at the school fit into the eligibility timeline of the GI Bill benefit?
- Veteran friendly: Does the school have a Veteran Center for their Veteran students?
A lot of this information can also be obtained on the VA website, using the GI Bill Comparison Tool. Just enter the school and Veteran students can see how their tuition measures up, and if the school has programs to compensate for higher tuitions. The tool also provides numbers of how many Veterans are currently attending the school using their benefits.
Educations should not use a one size-fits all mentality. Veterans may find schools that have established reputations for serving Veterans well. But that still doesn’t mean that they are the best school for them and their academic needs. All of the components need to be considered before deciding to enroll at a school.
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Military Connection: Veteran Colleges: By Debbie Gregory