TASK & PURPOSE: What Makes A College Veteran Friendly?

Career College Central Summary:

  • Members of the military transitioning back to civilian life face a bewildering array of colleges at which to use their hard-earned G.I. Bill benefits. Many claim to be “veteran friendly,” but are they?
  • Numerous organizations publish annual lists ranking the most military-friendly schools. Military Times publishes the best-known list, but it is also one of the most dubious. In 2015 Best for Vets rankings, 6 out of the top 10 ranked schools had a less than 50% average graduation rate.
  • So what truly makes a college veteran friendly, and what can other colleges do to improve? Here are some clues to look for when seeking out a veteran-friendly school.
  • Colleges that genuinely value diversity will make an active, sustained effort to attract veterans, because they recognize the value of their presence in the classroom.
  • In 2011, Princeton University came under fire for having only three veterans enrolled out of more than 5,000 undergraduates, despite the fact that veterans make up 1 out of every 30 undergraduate students nationwide. In response, Shirley Tilghman, the president of the university, said that they “do not discourage veterans from applying to Princeton.” A university spokesman added that Princeton has “no prohibition against veterans, and we encourage and consider their applications like all others.” However, a lack of active discrimination is very different from going out on the streets to recruit veterans.
  • At the same time, colleges often go to great lengths to attract applications from students who are members of an underserved minority, come from a low-income background, or are the first generation in their family to go to college. Schools do this because they recognize that having a diverse body of students makes for a better educational experience for all. These students are less likely to know what options are available to them, and therefore disproportionately less likely to apply on their own if the college does not make an effort to reach out to them.
  • Veterans also face challenges during a confusing and discouraging transition, and are similar to students who grew up in poverty in that they often underestimate their academic abilities. Yet veterans bring with them a unique perspective and set of experiences, as well as the determination to succeed. Colleges should want them in their classrooms.

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