Going Back to School as a Military Veteran: What You Need to Know to Be Successful

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As a veteran, you may be entitled to the GI Bill, which has helped veterans and their families pay for training programs, college, and graduate school since 1944. The bill was created to help veterans transition into the civilian world and was so successful that in 2017, President Trump passed the Forever GI Bill into law. If you are a veteran and are unsure of what to do once you move on from the military, consider taking advantage of this opportunity. 

Below, North American Health Careers & Education shares some of the benefits of doing so, along with the unique challenges you may face on the path to your degree.

The Benefits of Seeking a Higher Degree Post-Military

It’s natural to wonder if college may be for you. However, you should not let your skepticism blind you to the very real benefits of a college education which, among several others, include the following:

  • Training in a new field: If you are like most veterans, you entered the military right out of high school. Now that your first career is over, you may have no idea what you want to do next. College can open your eyes to several new career ideas and, better yet, equip you with the tools and skills you need to succeed in them.
  • Increased job prospects: When you hold a college degree, your risk of unemployment gets cut in half. Your earning potential skyrockets as well. People with a bachelor’s degree make $32,000 more annually than those who hold nothing higher than a high school diploma. The average lifetime additional earnings amount to at least $1 million more for college graduates.
  • Easier transition into civilian life: Many veterans feel isolated and lonely in their post-service lives. Some find it beneficial to surround themselves with others by attending classes, joining study groups, and participating in on-campus activities. Enrolling in school can help you stave off isolation and make your move into civilian life easier.

Challenges You May Face on Your Path to a Degree

Given the experiences service members typically go through, many face unique challenges in their quest for higher education. For instance, anti-military sentiments are rampant on college campuses, contributing to feelings of loneliness, which are already common among veteran students.

Additionally, statistics cited by The Hamilton Project indicate that most college students are between 18 and 22 years old. Veterans, however, don’t usually begin school until they are at least 22, often older. The age gap can make it difficult for veteran students to connect with their peers.

Mental and physical disabilities are additional challenges many former service members must overcome. Finally, some find that they become impatient with the slow pace of college classes, as they crave the action characteristic of military life.

Achieving a Work/School/Life Balance

Though you have the GI Bill to work with, it may not be enough. If this is the case, you will need to take on a job while going to school and balancing your family life. To achieve the best balance, consider applying for scholarships to cover what the GI Bill doesn’t.

Also, investigate online schools instead of traditional institutions. Virtual programs offer ample flexibility, affordability, and reputability. Most also provide several degree options, including business, where you can further develop your knowledge of strategy, management, marketing, and leadership. For many veterans, work in the business field is a natural fit, as their military background meshes well with these career qualities.

Veterans can certainly benefit from a college education. If you’re thinking of going back to school, consider the above information before you apply. While there are some challenges that go along with pursuing your educational and occupational goals, you’ve already proven that you’re no stranger to hard work! Apply that in a fresh way, and the future is yours.

North American Health Careers & Education is an Academic Association of educators, students and professionals and the parent company of NAHCE University. Our focus is on the entire career experience, gratification for our educators and the continuous satisfaction and success of our students. All students receive a lifetime of benefits, career counseling and student support, provided by the Association. Call or Text +1 (872)-7NA-HCEU

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