By Debbie Gregory.
There are approximately one million Veterans who are currently reporting for duty at college campuses across America. At the start of each semester, there are thousands of Vets attending college classes for the first time. Many of these new Veteran students enter their respective enrollment offices with feelings similar to the ones they had when they were potential recruits at MEPS, trying to enlist. Most new Veteran students are unsure what to expect from the admission procedure, their Veteran GI Bill education benefits, the application forms, or enrollment.
Many Veteran-friendly college and university campuses are now offering assistance to Vets, even before they are enrolled. These schools and their Veteran Centers will walk new, current, and potential students through every aspect of their academic pursuits, with astoundingly successful results. Too many Veterans don’t know about these valuable, stress-reducing resources. Often times, these Veteran-friendly schools are not publicized, promoted, or praised enough!
However, there are many schools that don’t currently measure up to the standard that Veteran students deserve. Too many schools are still failing to train faculty and staff about Veteran education benefits. Usually, this is due to a lack of funding, or a lack of training, and NOT from any sort of maliciousness. Veteran students have received bad or incorrect advice about their benefits and academic advising. Unfortunately, these schools are the ones that make headlines, rather than the schools that are effectively helping Vets.
This year at California State University Los Angeles, a group representing the 400 veterans attending the school voted no confidence in the administration. There were complaints about academic advisors recommending classes and programs that were detrimental to their Veteran education benefits. Additionally, the school administration had failed to follow through on a proposal to establish a resource center that would provide a full range of counseling, orientation and other services.
This article is not meant to denounce Cal State LA, a school that has already begun to correct their deficiency. This article is meant to educate and empower Veterans who are looking to attend college. The school closest to their residence is not necessarily the one that Vets should be attending. Before they enroll at a school, Vets should shop around and make sure that the school that they wish to attend offers both the academic programs they desire and the student Veteran resources that they require to accomplish their professional goals. Prospective Veteran students are encouraged to browse a school’s website, take a tour of the campus, talk to the schools admissions office and absolutely contact the school’s Veteran Resource Center. Veterans should really research their schools, degrees and majors before enrolling, and part of that research should be to make sure that their school is Veteran-friendly.
All schools should strive to become the most Veteran-friendly that they can be. In addition to the one million Veteran students currently enrolled, colleges and universities can expect about a million more in the next few years. Already armed with the confidence that comes from battle-tested character building–– once equipped with college educations, today’s Veteran Students will become tomorrow’s community & national leaders. Schools should see investing in their Veterans as an investment in the future.
Vets attending college classes for the first time, Veteran-friendly college and university campuses, academic advisors recommending classes and programs, browse a school’s website, take a tour of the campus, talk to the schools admissions office, contact the school’s Veteran Resource Center.