2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 11-16
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM


BARNES, James R., North East, PA 16428, sir_james_barnes@yahoo.com

Military veterans engaged in college education have a unique experience with regard to learning. As most non-traditional students may have a difficult time adjusting to college, it is often times more extreme for the student veteran. Military life is one of imposed structure with a fast tempo and a concrete chain of command, which is almost the opposite of college life, where one must be more self-driven. Consequently, adjusting to civilian life is not always easy, and the more relaxed setting of college is in contrast to the tight order of military life. In addition, veterans often have to contend with their own struggles with military detachment, possible Post-Traumatic Stress, and family responsibilities (for veterans who are parents) while also dealing with their course load, school requirements, and red tape associated with the GI Bill. Despite the added weight a veteran carries with him/her to their education, they tend to thrive in chaos. The experiences many veterans have are not easily matched by the civilian populace and, therefore, veterans excel in stressful situations. To elaborate, a solid work ethic is one of the strongest traits a student veteran tends to have meaning that deadlines for papers and projects are challenges most veterans will generally meet with enthusiasm. However, their experiences in the military can make it difficult to connect with their fellow students and instructors because they feel that no one may be able to relate what they have gone through; this can be further compounded by their self-reliance and self-sufficiency, which can make it difficult for them to ask for help from their peers or staff. In order to ensure a smooth transition into college life for veterans, professors can sit down with their student veterans and discuss what they expect to accomplish in school. As minor as that sounds, it can go a long way in bringing a sense of focus to the veteran. These talks can also let the veteran know that there is somebody looking out for their general welfare as often times soldiers look up to military leadership for guidance or reassurance.