In the past, graduation rates for veterans were significantly lower than those of traditional students. However, a major 2011 study by the Student Veterans of America revealed that the opposite was true. In fact, veterans are graduating at a rate close to that of more traditional students: an average 51.7 percent for veterans in comparison to 59 percent for other students, as of 2011, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In some branches of the armed services, graduation rates are even higher. Air Force veterans, for example have the highest graduation rate of all the military branches at 67 percent.
Clearly, veterans are succeeding in college more than ever before. Colleges have made great strides in eliminating many of the barriers that have stood between veterans and their academic success, and continue to find ways to provide more support for their needs.
What’s Holding People Back?
Most researchers involved in the analysis of veteran’s issues in education note that the challenges that veterans face are similar to those faced by nontraditional students, such as those who return to school after several years in the workforce or who have financial or family obligations that keep them from devoting all of their attention to school. However, former military personnel also have unique challenges including PTSD, social or financial challenges. These are just a few of the obstacles that veterans have historically faced when seeking education. However, many colleges and universities have taken steps to become more military friendly, and develop degree programs for veterans that ensure their success.
How Colleges Are Helping
Colleges and universities have recognized the challenges facing their military veterans, and are developing programs and resources to support their success.
For example, many colleges are opening veteran’s centers designed to provide guidance and support in all aspects of the transition from military to civilian life. Some universities are also offering more flexible options for earning degrees that better align with veterans’ needs and preferences. Online classes, fast track degree programs that offer credit for skills and education gained in the military, and open or rolling enrollment schedules are just some of the ways that universities are offering flexible options and making it possible for veterans to fit education in with their other responsibilities.
Above all, veterans are succeeding in college due to a growing acceptance of their presence and value to the overall college experience. In short, veterans are quickly becoming an important part of the student population, and schools are doing more to provide the support they need.
To learn more about the benefits for veterans at Columbia Southern University, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/Military.