Back to College: 101 for Veterans

When you think of college, the first thing that comes to mind is usually crazy parties and lots of alcohol. At least that’s the stereotypical image we get from watching movies – when, in reality, the truth is very different. A college is a place of study, a place for people of all ages who are trying to improve their lives and their business prospects. The same is true for veterans, who also find themselves in a strange position after serving in the military.

This is so common that there is actually the Students Veterans of America association that deals with problems in this sphere. Many members have families, a quarter of them are women – and they are so much different than your good old 18-year-old college student.

All of this can be confusing, so where can you start? We’ve made a list of handy tips that will help you get right down to business, and enroll in a college you want, and improve yourself and your future prospects.

  • The GI Bill

  • This is probably the most important point when it comes to higher education for veterans. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (a.k.a. the GI Bill), is basically a law that deals with more education opportunities for veterans, men and women who are still in active duty or have returned from their service.

    The GI Bill is technically not considered Financial Aid – it is directly paid to you to help you select any higher education of your choosing, and not to schools. Have in mind that GI Bill benefits will reduce some other financial help that you might be able to receive. You are not required to have a set time for how long you must use the benefits mentioned above. You can leave the program at any time and reapply again if needed.

    The amount of money you are able to receive is directly connected to the number of credits you enroll, and the amount of active duty service you have – so make sure to inform yourself with the newest info so that you can solely focus on your education.

    Further reading and useful educational services for veterans:

  • Find an Education Counselor

  • Not only will a college counselor be able to help you with a variety of financial questions but they are also great to help you choose your own educational priorities – so that your time is invested wisely. An advisor will also be able to help you with choosing the best possible school that will use the full potential of the GI Bill mentioned above.

    It is also important to look at graduation rates before selecting a college. See what kind of employment is offered for that kind of studies, not to mention some subjective requests that you may have. If you do not want to take advantage of the GI Bill, you can apply for scholarships. There are even some specially designed for helping veterans – and your counselor will be able to help with all those questions.

  • Ask Around at the Veterans Affairs Office

  • Once you have a clear idea of what you want from your future education, and you’ve narrowed down your choices, it is best to also find a nearby Veterans Affairs Office that will be able to provide you with even more answers to the common questions that you probably have. Their offices will provide assistance with anything you have to ask and will be more than happy to help you with your further education and explain all the laws that could help you on your journey.

    You can even find a specialized veteran official at most schools, which could provide you with more specific help connected to that specific school, veteran’s benefits, and many other resources outside the GI Bill.

  • Use Your Experience

  • Unlike an average student, you have life experience behind your back, which will definitely help with most of the obstacles that you may encounter in your education. It is up to you, with the help of your advisor, to find the best possible scenario where you can use your real-life knowledge and translate that into college credit.

    The transition itself might not be easy for some, and college life has some of its own unique obstacles that you’ll need to overcome if you plan on being a successful student. Despite being a bit older, and a lot more experienced, college can be a stressful experience, especially if you have a family. Ask around about the school you are interested in and find out where you can find help if the need arises, and what other resources are available to help you adjust.

Just create a plan and stick to it, and your education plans will come to fruition before you realize.