By Christine Manson, director of veterans services at Hodges University and U.S. Air Force reservist.
The transition from combat to college can be difficult for many veterans. While some students feel prepared to enter into a classroom environment, others struggle with the feeling of inadequacy. At Hodges University, 12 percent of all enrolled students are veterans or dependents. In an effort to serve this percentage of Hodges’ student population, the staff in the Dr. Peter Thomas Veterans Services Center strive to provide welcoming and informative environment where veteran students and dependents receive support for funding their education and adjusting to student and civilian life.
We understand the importance of succeeding in college and believe in providing necessary resources to assist in your educational journey. This is why we have compiled our top three tips for veteran students to be successful in college:
- Creating a support network. This type of network can ease the transition and often be the difference between success and failure. It is important to take the time to connect with other students, faculty and staff. Connecting with veteran students can be especially helpful as most students often find immediate comradery with other veterans, regardless of branch of service.
- Establish a place to gather. Veteran students at Hodges University are encouraged to spend time in the Dr. Peter Thomas Veterans Services Center. It is a place to study, relax, connect and find information on veteran-specific resources. The center is staffed with men and women who have military experience and can relate to veteran students on a personal level. This is the place to get the support needed to make the dream of graduation a reality. Success is oftentimes a result of making connections.
- Ask for help. In addition to creating a network of supporters, successful students ask for help. When struggles occur, do not remain silent. Instead, reach out and let someone know. Often, students are unaware of the resources already in place to help in a variety of areas. Tutoring, ADA accommodations, counseling, mentoring, seminars and nonprofit organizations are available to anyone seeking help. Do not let pride get in the way of accomplishing a dream.
In addition to the three tips we have provided, the U.S. Department of Education has created the “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” to aide institutions in their efforts to help veterans transition into higher education. As one of the 2,035 universities and colleges who are “committed to supporting veterans as they pursue their education and employment goals, Hodges University is proud to support these “8 Keys,” which include:
- Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
- Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
- Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
- Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space for them (even if limited in size).
- Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
- Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.
- Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.
- Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.
Designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, Hodges University embraces military students, providing resources and support to ensure their educational success. Hodges is also a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides tuition and fee assistance to eligible veteran students; is a campus partner of the Got Your 6 initiative; and was named to the Military Times Best for Vets: College 2016 list. Led by students, the university is also home to the John Ebling Memorial at Hodges University American Legion Post 397. Opening in 2013, American Legion Post 397 is the first of its kind to be located on a college campus in the United States.
For more information about the Dr. Peter Thomas Veterans Services Center, contact Christine Manson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (239) 938-7735. Student veterans and institutions who are serving this student population can find more information at http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/studentveteran/ or http://www.ed.gov/veterans-and-military-families.