Military Advantage

Thinking About College? Be Ready Before You Enroll

In the last few years, far too many veterans have learned the hard way that it takes quite a bit of work to be successful in college.  This has been reflected in the national graduation rates and drop-out statistics. Veterans and servicemembers can learn to avoid the pitfalls and college scams by doing some homework before they enroll in school.

In the first entry in this series I addressed the fact that “Military Friendly” is nothing more than a marketing phrase that means virtually nothing on its own. I offered some ways veterans can identify the schools that offer real support programs and policies designed to help them achieve their education goals.

This series of blog entries addresses three BIG issues veterans should be aware of before they start college.

  1. Military Friendly is not what it is chalked up to be.
  2. Most veterans need some remedial training to prepare academically for college rigor.
  3. Vets need to have a career plan and goals before jumping in to college.
The point of addressing these issues is to equip college bound vets and provide resources and opportunities to help ensure they get the most from their GI Bill and tuition assistance benefits.

Today's focus is on issue number two – the fact that nearly every adult student needs remedial courses to prepare for the rigors of higher education, and veterans are no different.

Veterans who need refresher courses have nothing to be ashamed of. Think about it this way, how long has it been since you had to do any algebra or geometry homework? Or, write a double spaced 20 page APA styled essay?

The point is that jumping into college without being academically ready is a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, there are resources to help vets prepare for school. My favorite program is a Department of Education program known as Veterans Upward Bound. I attended VUB before I went back to school and I can honestly say that if I hadn't, I likely wouldn’t have finished my associate’s degree, let alone my MBA.

VUB normally starts by giving vets (and servicemembers) a test to assess their current skill levels. Then they provide courses and counseling to help fill the gaps. In addition, VUB provides one-on-one counseling on GI Bill benefits and they can help vets get connected to local resources.

Unfortunately, the VUB program is underfunded and is currently only available on 47 college campuses around the U.S. (including Guam and Puerto Rico). Visit the National Veterans Upward Bound website to learn more about the program and find out if they are at a location near you.

The VA offers similar assistance through the VetSuccess program. VetSuccess offers the following services:

  • Comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment.
  • Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services.
  • Employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance.
  • Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations.
  • On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences.
  • Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school.
  • Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals.
  • Independent living services for Veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities.
Veterans can visit the VA website to get started

Veterans can also request tutorial assistance through the GI Bill. Tutorial assistance helps the student pay for necessary tutoring and is a supplement to the student’s regular education benefit. Tutorial assistance is available if you are receiving VA educational assistance at the half-time or greater rate and have a deficiency in a subject making tutoring necessary. Learn more about Tutorial Assistance.

Many public and private universities and colleges also offer tutorial assistance and remedial courses. The only drawback is that most remedial course work is not eligible for GI Bill benefits. However, it is better to take the time to complete these course and be successful than to dive right in and drop right out.

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