Attending college after serving in the military can be very difficult. Despite what your duties were while serving, it can be a tricky process to transition from active duty into civilian life as a college student. For those of you currently in this situation, I’m sure you are all nervous and anxious to know, what is it like to go to college after serving in the military?
Those who serve in the military are used to being around those in their similar situation who are also serving in the military. It can be a tough transition in the beginning for veteran’s who may be attending school with students who are four to eight years younger than them—it can be a scary change!
Not only do veteran’s have to get acquainted with their new, possibly much younger peers, they also have to learn to adapt their hands-on, in-the-moment training to writing essays, reading assignments and taking final exams. Some veterans can be very discouraged that they will not be able to handle the pressure of going to class and taking exams, but it’s actually quite the contrary. As a veteran, you have training that puts you way ahead of your peers! The training you received in the military can give you insight in dealing with stress and complex problems, so you’re actually more prepared than you think.
Here are a few tips for veterans enrolling in college to help ease the transition from military personnel to civilian life:
Be Prepared to Make a Transition. As a veteran you are probably accustomed to following a regimented schedule; however, as a student you have the power to control your own college path that is tailored specifically for you. In the military, you are always going to have someone who is higher ranking than you tell you where you need to be that day, and in college that is no longer the case. Having said that, the new freedom can be very liberating on your schedule, yet veterans must be smart with their newfound power and be responsible when planning your schedule.
Take the CLEP. The College Level Examination Program is a series of exams you as a veteran can take to test your college-level knowledge based on what you learned through your on-the-job training and personal development. There are a wide range of exams, both general and subjective, that will test your knowledge and ability so you can be properly placed in the right classes. This isn’t a competition or any reason to be nervous, it is simply a way to test your level of knowledge so you can be placed in the correct classes.
Understand That Your Worldwide View May Be Significantly Different Than Your Fellow Classmates and Faculty. As a veteran, you are naturally older than other college students, and if you aren’t older in years, you are definitely older in experience. It’s just the natural effect of serving in the military. As you attend college it is important to remember that not everyone is going to hold the same values as the ones you were taught while serving. You are naturally going to have a different outlook on life because you have experienced far more serious things. Be prepared for this and recognize it, and remember that everyone has a different perspective on life based on their past experiences.
Seek Out Other Veterans, As Well As Civilians. It is important to find out which programs your university has to offer for veterans, and maybe even meet with the Veterans Administrator so that you are aware of all the resources available to you and know that you are not facing the challenges alone. It’s always a positive thing to meet other people who are going through the same situation as you. Your school may even offer veteran-specific orientations or classes, which is a great way to connect with peers of similar backgrounds, so make sure you look into it!
While it is important to seek those who have a similar background as you to offer their support, it is equally important to try and socialize with people who are different than yourself to broaden your horizons and actually get to know your fellow classmates. Try to step outside of the veteran’s sphere and meet new people with different interests than you.
Are you a veteran going back to school? Please share with us your helpful tips!