In 2018, over 650,000 veterans enrolled in higher education programs using military benefits. Most veterans were between 25 and 40 years old.
It can seem like a lifetime of difference when you look at the average college student. You have different experiences and have seen things most would run from.
Going back to school as a veteran is a smart choice, but it’s not always easy. If you want to know how to make the most of your education, keep reading.
You’re about to learn the top tips for veterans going back to school.
1. Deciding What to Study
Why do you want to go back to school? Do you feel like you missed out on the college experience while you were in the military?
You’re about to spend a lot of resources and time on getting a degree. You want to make sure that it serves you later on in life.
Take time to think about what you want to do in the future. You might want to run a business or run for office.
Do you want to leverage your military experience to get a job as an engineer with a defense contractor?
Figure out what gets you excited about going back to school. Look at the required courses. Be sure your motivation will stay high as you go through your program.
2. Financing Your Education
Higher education costs thousands of dollars. Students often leave school with a massive debt burden just as they’re beginning a new chapter in their lives.
You might assume that you’ve got it made because you’re a veteran. The G.I. bill should cover all of your tuition and fees.
You also get a specified amount of funds for books and housing for up to 36 months.
There is a caveat with this situation, though. It usually covers tuition at public schools at the in-state rate. The national maximum it covers is about $25,000.
Most private schools cost much more than that. Some schools are part of the Yellow Ribbon program, which aims to cover the funds not covered by the G.I. bill.
Another option is to apply for scholarships for veterans. This is another way to tell your story and get grants and other financial help that you don’t have to pay back.
3. Schedule and Learning Preferences
The education world has changed over the last several years. There are so many options to get an education, you have to think about what works best for you.
Do you plan to work full-time and go to school full-time? You may want to scale back if you don’t want to burn out. You’re going to create a lot of unnecessary stress.
If you do plan to work while attending school, look for a program that offers night classes for adults. The benefit is that you’re in a program with other professionals who are also adult learners.
You avoid the potential discomfort of being surrounded by college kids who don’t know anything about life.
There are different learning methods, too. You can get your education completely online. You can enroll in a hybrid program or an in-person program.
Think about how the teaching methods impact your ability to learn. You might find that the convenience of online learning fits with your learning style.
It could be that you need to have in-person instruction and interaction to make the most of your education.
It’s a very personal decision and there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Only consider what’s right for you.
4. Ask About Credits Transfers
Transferring credits lets you apply previous coursework towards your degree program. If you had to take military courses or other types of college-level courses, find out if they’re transferrable.
Colleges have different credit transfer policies. It’s best to apply to the programs that take your credits.
5. Get Into Study Mode
The military taught you a lot about discipline, staying on schedule, and leadership. Those attributes will be a blessing as you go through college courses.
There is a big difference between military experience and college experience. You’ll have to apply different skills in your coursework.
Read through the syllabi of the courses you’re taking. Make a plan to tackle mid-terms and final exams.
6. Use School Resources
Your school may have a veteran’s affairs department. Use that as a resource for anything you need.
Your experience in the military is unlike anything most college students can imagine. You’re probably past the fraternity/sorority drama, but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with other students.
Being able to connect with others is important for so many reasons. Some degree programs require collaboration for projects.
It also helps your mental wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to get the support that you need. It’s widely available for you.
7. Pay Attention to Mental Health
Don’t go into college-level courses thinking you can handle anything because you’ve been in the military. You’re equipped to handle some situations, but don’t minimize the stress of going back to school.
You could put your mental health at risk and not even know it. Something benign could trigger a traumatic experience.
Get into a routine that includes plenty of sleep, physical activity, and nutrition. Your body and mind will be ready to handle the challenges of going back to school.
Ready to Go Back to School?
The tips in this article showed you how to find the right education path, financing, and schedule. You also learned that going back to school isn’t as simple as it seems.
It’s a tough path to follow, but with the right mindset and an eye on your mental wellbeing, you’ll be able to ace your classes.
For more career and education tips, see what else is happening on the blog today.