What are Some Tips for Success for Veterans in Traditional College Classes?

If you’re a veteran thinking about going to college, you probably have tons of questions. Transitioning to civilian life can be a challenge, in general. Learning how to be a student again may seem especially intimidating. The truth is, however, that veterans going back to school tend to perform just as well as their peers, even those who just returned to school. Your general life experience and the practical knowledge you’ve gained through your military career can help you greatly when it comes to academics. Read on to learn about some tips that will help you to succeed in higher education.

Resource: Top 15 Online Colleges for Military and G.I. Bill

Meet the Veterans Support Staff

Most schools have some sort of office or program to assist veterans. You can ask about this at your orientation or through financial aid. Your school’s switchboard operator should be able to direct you to the correct contact. This department or staff person can provide you with information regarding bringing in transfer credits earned during your military tenure, accessing your GI Bill funds and other service personnel specific questions you may have. They are an invaluable resource to know throughout your time on campus.

Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships

Sometimes your eligible GI benefits may not cover all of your expenses. It’s a good idea to apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can obtain this application on the website at FAFSA.gov or your financial aid office can assist you in filling it out. Some schools require veterans to obtain some form of aid or payment in the interim between when classes start and when the Veterans’ Administration releases your GI Bill funds. And some scholarships you may qualify for ask that you complete the FAFSA in order to be eligible. Again, your financial aid office is a wonderful source of information for scholarship research. There are many that are specifically meant for those who have served.

See Your Academic Adviser

Along with the veterans’ office and financial aid department, your academic adviser is one of the key resource personnel you should consider part of your support team. This professional will help you to choose your schedule of classes each semester and can make sure you are complying with school policies related to financial assistance, grade point average, credit load and more. Cultivating a relationship with your adviser will benefit you in numerous ways. You’ll have someone to answer any academic-related questions you come across as your navigate college as a veteran, and this staff member can assist you should you find yourself encountering difficulties such as personal issues, academic difficulty or problems transitioning to civilian life.

Meet Other Vets

While we’ve pointed out a number of campus resource personnel to help you along your way, another great support system can be found among other veterans. These folks have some common experiences with you and can relate to your struggles or worries. Those who have been students for a semester or more can provide you with great advice on managing academics, personal life, family responsibilities and work as a returning service person. Your veterans’ center can connect you with others. If your school doesn’t have a specific department to serve vets, you can work with the student activities personnel to set up your own support club.

Follow these tips to get the right start when it comes to going back to school. There are a number of unique challenges you may have as a veteran returning to college, but you also possess a number of strengths based on your military service that can serve you well while on the path to obtaining a degree.