Going back to school at any point in life can be a challenge. But making the jump when you’re a veteran returning to civilian life can involve additional obstacles. Here’s the information you need to know before heading back to college post-enlistment.
Know Your Benefits (and Rights)
All veterans can receive specific benefits from the U.S. government. And most vets are aware of the GI Bill and how it ensures their educational benefit after discharge from the military.
But beyond the basics, many service members don’t know much about their rights or benefits when re-entering civilian society. If you’re unsure what your next steps should be or need advice on any legal aspect of veteran-hood, visit the Ask Nod website for free advice. You may find the answers you’re looking for – for free.
Choose an Educational Path
Before you enroll in college, it’s vital that you have an end goal in mind. Maybe you’re hoping to brush up on your skills with a few classes. Even enrolling in a psychology class can provide insights you can use in the workplace. Or maybe you want to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree that can help you pave a new career path. Those interested in pursuing a career working with businesses, for instance, could benefit from earning an accounting degree.
Whatever type of education you decide to pursue, you can choose to head to campus or attend online. Earning a degree online is an easy way to boost your education while still making time for personal and professional responsibilities. From classes in business to a certification in healthcare, you can find a degree option no matter your interests.
Take It Easy (At Least At First)
You might expect that after your time in the military, college will be an easy and even rewarding experience. But many vets find that navigating college is particularly difficult, notes Military.com. The transition to an educational focus requires effort – and an entirely new set of parameters.
Easing into classes – and campus life, if applicable – can help maintain your confidence in pursuing your education. You can also investigate programs to support your college applications and overall experience, notes U.S. Veterans Magazine.
Build a Support Network
Building a support network during your college attendance is essential for maintaining a social life. But it’s also important for your educational performance. Think about it: connecting with fellow students can enable you to develop a new perspective and experience new things.
Culture shock is also real when re-entering the community, so AAC&U explains veteran students often require more support than their civilian counterparts in order to succeed. Don’t feel intimidated by the transition – instead, seek support to help you thrive.
Be Proud of Your Hard Work
Fewer veterans earn degrees than nonveterans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, veterans are only slightly less likely to possess a bachelor’s degree – and they are more likely to have an associate’s degree. By attending college – and earning a degree – you’re creating a positive effect on how the statistics fall.
Don’t Pursue (Only) a Passion
When it comes to exploring a career (or planning for one) after your education, many experts caution against pursuing passion alone. Doing some soul searching or taking a quiz can tell you a lot about what will make you happy, but it should be backed up with knowledge and skill. Hone in on an industry or niche you’re interested that also helps you make the most of your degree.
Other strategies include paying attention to the market and seeing what’s happening around you. Monster suggests that working with your strengths might mean skipping a specific type of degree in favor of something that comes easier to you. But balancing your passion with what you’re good at is a great way to make the most of your degree.
Heading to college when getting home from your military service may not be a priority. But if you’re considering diving into higher education, it’s important to know what you’re up against. The good news is that many veterans successfully earn degrees – and propel their civilian careers to new heights, too. All it takes is a bit of know-how, and the motivation to make it happen.