Is Higher Ed Ready for the Veteran Influx?
By Mike Lesczinski, Excelsior Life News Staff--
Preliminary results from an Excelsior College Polling Institute “Patriot Poll” conducted in late 2012 indicate more than 88 percent of active-duty military personnel believe a higher education to be the most important factor toward career success.
Recent data compiled by the Census Bureau offers support, with college graduates in general earning nearly 2.4 million over their lifetime (compared to $1.3 million for those with just a high school diploma).
The question then becomes whether or not institutes of higher education are prepared for the influx with more than a hundred thousand servicemembers expected to transition back over the coming decade. So how are colleges preparing?
“That’s going to be our biggest challenge – figuring out ways to handle the inflow of new veteran applicants, many of whom are unsure about college services or what is even available to them through the Post 9/11 Veteran Education Benefit,” said Judy Reed, Director of Veteran Services and Outreach at Excelsior College’s Center for Military Education (CME). CME recently launched a web series, “You’re Back: What’s Next?” to tackle these types of issues.
Reed says a lack of structure continues to be one of the main roadblocks for military personnel on their return to school.
“The military is highly regimented environment and active-duty service members are conditioned to follow orders – taking that structure away can be incredibly difficult,” said Reed. “The responsibility falls on the institution to provide new veteran students with the assistance necessary to ease the transition back, whether that be explaining benefits, teaching time management and study skills, or finding them a veteran mentor.”
According to Reed, Excelsior’s new Veteran Center offers a variety of these types of benefits, including “vet to vet” mentoring, academic and career services and discussion boards where enrolled veterans can sound off, network and find study partners. The Center expects the veteran mentorship programs to continue to grow in popularity as more veteran enrollees discover the benefits of partnering up with “seasoned” veterans who have gone through the process.
Excelsior’s next “You’re Back: What’s Next” webinar, “How to Demonstrate Your Value in the Civilian Job Market,” focuses on career services, and is scheduled for March 6. The school is consistently selected as “military-friendly” institution by Military Advanced Education, Military Times Edge and G.I. Jobs.