Whether you enlisted right out of high school, completed some college, or earned a degree and commissioned as an officer, now you’re at a point where you want to go back to school after leaving the military.
Countless vets have struggled with transitioning back into civilian life after spending years in the service. Usually this affects vets searching for employment. What about going back to school?
Here are a few challenges veterans might face when heading back to school.
1. College Life Is Expensive
As a veteran, you will have some GI Bill benefits to help with the cost of tuition. What about housing? The GI Bill offers a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) for students registered part-time. If you’re planning on taking online courses, the MHA pays a maximum of $825.00.
Costs of living must be considered as well. Many college students work part-time which helps cover some of these costs. Many students end up taking out loans and using credit cards to make it through college. Before deciding to go back to school, create a financial plan to ensure you will have all of your bills and living expenses covered without going into deep debt.
Make sure to submit your Federal Student Aid application on time to see if you qualify for any grants or loans. If you do have to take out student loans, make sure to have a plan to pay them back.
2. Overestimating Readiness To Go Back To The Classroom
College workload can be stressful and overwhelming. In the military, you were probably used to working long hours or getting all of duties completed during a busy, routine shift and got used to being busy.
Full-time college students are a different level of busy!
Many veterans either go back to college or attend for the first time confident and then become overwhelmed with the workload and demands. Falling behind on assignments and not studying leads to poor grades and performance. This puts any scholarships or grants in jeopardy, especially if a certain GPA is required to keep those.
Many who succeed at their military jobs might not succeed in academics. This is a different type of work. Unlike a job where there are bosses and co-workers for guidance and support. Professors and instructions have hundreds of students and multiple classes. It can be difficult for them to be a resource.
Unlike a workplace where information can be exchanged during the day, in college most students go from class to class and rarely have time to exchange notes or discuss classes and assignments.
For those who have been to college previously, this is no surprise. For those who have never been, this is a rude awakening. Whether you decide to enroll full-time or part-time, organizational skills and time management skills are vital for academic success. Students must learn to quickly adapt to their classes, professors, and required work. Make sure to visit your advisor to make sure you are on the right path for you degree.
3. Getting Back To Civilian Life
Former military members miss the camaraderie and culture of military service after they leave service. The ingrained sense of mission and values causes veterans to live a certain way, which doesn’t always translate to civilian life. Many veterans experience this as a loss and can be difficult for transitioning back to civilian life.
Making friends and connections are vital to ward off loneliness. Many colleges have veterans support organizations that can help with friendships and support. This is important for mental health and wellness. According to a study by Chadron State College, over 25% of college students have been “diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year.”
Be aware of this potential risk and take care of your health.
Going back to school is difficult and many returning students are caught off-guard and become overwhelmed with their new responsibilities, transition back to civilian life, financial woes, and anxiety.
Use your military training o make an operational plan for success by predicting problems and contingencies, then create a solution to be successful.