When you are ready to make the transition to civilian life and are seeking to begin your collegiate career, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help you to succeed and enhance your college experience.
Understand your Benefits
In the military, we relied on subject matter experts (SMEs) to provide us with the information needed to accomplish our assigned tasks or mission. It's only natural to assume in college there are SMEs to help you with obtaining and processing you benefits. However, when it comes to your college education, you need rely on yourself to fully understand what your benefits are, how to apply for them, and how long your benefits will last. The best place to begin is by going to the GI Bill website and reviewing the information provided in the “For Students” section. Having a full understanding of your benefits and how they work will help you ensure you have the financial resources to help you throughout your college career, giving you one less thing to have to worry about.
Develop a plan and have a goal
All successful endeavors are based upon a plan and goals. So it is with pursuing your college education. Before you leave the service, spend some time in determining what you want to do after military service. In our series, Career Boot Camp, we discussed in detail the steps to help you formulate your college plan. Regardless of what your goal is, before you leave the service, have a plan, don't start college without one and just take courses aimlessly.Take aim of your goal, and work your plan. In the long run, it will take you less time and resources to accomplish what you set out to achieve.
Flexibility is KEY
Even the best laid plan can go awry from time to time. In the military, every plan had one or more contingencies to deal with unforeseen circumstances. Believe it when I tell you, things in college don't always go as planned. Classes may get cancelled or moved to a new location. Assignment due dates may get changed and will be due at the worst possible time. Professors may change the textbook for a class after you have purchased the one you thought you needed. And, you may not get that “A” on a writing assignment you were hoping for. All of these little hiccups in the plan does not mean the plan or you will fail. Just reassess the situation and make adjustments in your plan, never taking your eye off of your goal.
Get a "Battle Buddy"
In the service, we had our "battle buddy," that person who we knew had our back and we could bounce things off of and knew we would get honest advice from. In college, your buddy can be another veteran or fellow classmate, a professor, or staff member. In any case, having someone who you can count on throughout your college career will make facing the challenges college will present to you easier to overcome.
Learn how to work on your own
Though having a buddy with you as you pursue your college goal and follow your plan, you need to be able to work and get things accomplished on your own. In the military we relied on "teams" to get things done, in college, it is individual effort that is needed and encouraged. Unlike in the military, no one is going to be telling you what to do, how to do it, and when you need to get it done. It is all up to you! That's why it is important for you to know what it is you want, have a plan to accomplish it, and find your resources to help you along the way. You made it through basic training and maybe a deployment or two. Just keep telling yourself, “you got this,” and you will achieve what you set out to do.
Johnson & Wales University supports those who’ve served our nation by providing them with the professionally focused education necessary to launch successful careers in their fields of interest. For more information, complete the "Request Info" form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.