According to the American Council on Education, by the year 2020, over 5 million post-9/11 service members are expected to transition out of the military. This massive influx of veterans provides higher education institutions with an unprecedented opportunity to reach and support the career paths of veterans, many of whom entered the military with partial degrees.
For many veterans, education offers a veritable bridge to continued success, tying the unique skills gained during their service to degree and career paths once they are home. Unfortunately, many universities don’t recognize the unique challenges faced by military veterans as they embark on a college degree – an often-overwhelming prerequisite for jobs they will look to pursue. Few schools are making investments in veteran success and integration, and many don’t meet the criteria to be considered “military friendly.”
Many veterans tend to be non-traditional students - they are more likely to be married, have children, and to hold down a job while going to school. Veteran students tend to be older and carrying far greater financial responsibilities. For some, entering a school environment can be a difficult transition that can feel utterly alien at times. As a result, the degree completion rate for veterans has shown to be lower than the four-year graduation rate for younger, non-veteran peers, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. For these reasons, the flexibility of online programs is well-suited to veteran students.
To effectively meet the unique needs of this growing demographic, institutions of higher education must adapt, to not only accommodate veterans’ academic pursuits, but to equip and set them up for continued success. The online environment tends to be a natural fit, given that military culture instills attributes like discipline and commitment, which are essential to successful online learning.
ASU Online Helping Veterans
ASU Online brings a deep understanding of the unique nature of military lifestyle and is committed to offering personalized support for students along their degree journey. This includes helping students and, when applicable, ensuring that valuable training and field work completed during military service translates to relevant course credits.
Community support can make an enormous difference during such a transitional time. To leverage the powerful nature of the military community, colleges should connect veterans with peers who can lend guidance on how to navigate the enrollment process efficiently and effectively. For example, the resources available at Arizona State University’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center provide resources specifically designed to support veteran both online and offline where they can seek assistance and support to ensure their success.
In addition, providing dedicated resources that ease the transition is tremendously beneficial. Many military-friendly colleges are employing military enrollment counselors who equip students with information about degree programs, admission requirements and the application process. ASU Online, who was recognized by the Military Times as a 2017 Best for Vets College, offers a dedicated military advocate to help students understand their rights and offers a military perspective on issues such as transfer credits, online education best practices and professor concerns.
This Veterans Day in particular, we celebrate the successes of our Sun Devil military and veteran student family – and we extend our deepest gratitude to all who have served our country.