In our series thus far, we have presented six steps to transition from a military to a college environment. The final four steps should help guide you towards an institution that will best help you achieve your academic goals.
Keep in mind that as we’ve marched through this process, we’ve taken a chronological approach to the 10 steps, presenting them in an order that matches the general enrollment process of most institutions. The ordering does not represent the importance, and you may find yourself focusing more on one or another.
With Part I, under your belt, you have thought long-term and established your life, career, and educational goals. You have also started the process of researching the schools and programs you are interested in and that will help you attain your life and career goals.
In Part II, you learned the importance of understanding accreditation as it pertains to earning your college degree. You learned the difference between National, Regional, and Programmatic Accreditation and why it matters.
Part III provided you with the ammunition you need to maximize your military training and experience by getting the “credit you deserve” and making sure it can be applied to your degree program. Additionally, this post provided information on the various military educational benefits available and how to maximize those benefits. Finally, you learned about setting and understanding expectations: what should you expect of your college and what your college expects from you.
In our final segment of Career Bootcamp, we will discuss some various support services that are important and should be part of your list of considerations when making the final choice as to which college to attend.
" You are an American Veteran, there is nothing you cannot accomplish! "
Step 7: Find out the Academic Support Services that are available to you.
For the majority of service members, going to college was not your first choice after high school, and in all likelihood, it has been some time since you were in an academic classroom. So it stands to reason that you may need some support from time to time in order to succeed.
· What tutoring services are available?
· Are they available if you are studying online?
· Is there an additional student fee for tutoring services?
· What kind of library support services are available? Can you access these online?
· Is there a writing center or lab available? Can it be accessed online as well?
· How accessible are the faculty to discuss issues with?
Understanding the academic support services available to you and how to access them can make all the difference in your academic career and help you to achieve your goals. Remember, you are not alone and there are resources available to you.
Step 8: Find out what the institution has available for Student Support Services.
In general, student support services covers a very wide range of services including, but not limited to: athletics, student government, counseling, clubs and organizations, fraternity and sorority life, student leadership, and spiritual life. All of these support services help to enhance the overall student experience. There are two important aspects to student support services to take into consideration. The first, are the same support services available to online students? Some very innovative schools have figured out ways for their online students to be involved in all aspects of student life. The second, and most important to our discussion, is has the institution provided training to their staff and faculty on the challenges facing transitioning veterans? Ancillary to this is how many staff members are themselves veterans? It is important that the people supporting you throughout your college experience understand you as a student. You are not your typical college student, attending college right out of high school. So it is important to find out if the school you are going to attend is truly prepared to support you throughout your college career.
Step 9: Determine the level of Career Support Services that are available.
Career Services is much more than helping students with résumé writing. Does the school you are planning on attending have intern and externship opportunities? How do you enroll in one? Are they available to online students? Do they conduct special programs on interviewing and making your elevator pitch? Do they conduct career fairs and invite employers to come to the campus and virtually to help their students find jobs? More important to you, the transitioning veteran, can they translate your military training and experience into civilian terms that then can be put into your résumé? The better colleges and universities have robust career services programs to help their students obtain the all-important job once they finish their degree.
Now we come to the final step in the transition process . . .
Step 10: Make your plan and follow it!
Throughout the Career Bootcamp series, we have provided you with information important to the transitioning student veteran population. Information designed to help you make the best possible decision about what degree program you should study, what college to attend, and why. However, information is just information until it is combined with an action plan. So now it is up to you. You need to do your research, analyze the data, and make your plan to help you achieve your educational, career, and life goals. You got this! You are an American Veteran, there is nothing you cannot accomplish! We wish you well along your journey.