5 Helpful Tips for Veterans Who Choose to Go Back to College

Guest Post, October 4, 2021, Adam Evans, Citebrain.com

5 Helpful Tips for Veterans Who Choose to Go Back to College

Veterans considering going back to school face several challenges relating to their new civilian status, their plans for the future, and their mental health. If you are a veteran embarking on a new educational journey, look over the five tips below from Mindful Veterans Connection Forum for help making this life-changing transition a little bit easier.

  1. Consider an Online Degree

Consider enrolling in an online degree program to finish credits you began before entering the military or a degree you started while in service. For example, attending school virtually and completing an online program in accounting could help you become certified as a CPA. If you want to work in the medical field, studying biology or chemistry would be ideal options. If you are unsure about what you want to study for your post-military career, you may wish to complete general education requirements online or at a community college before transferring to a local university.

  1. Investigate Veteran-Based Financing Options

Many scholarships and grants are available to veterans, and some colleges offer tuition discounts for those who have served in the military. The GI Bill can help with paying tuition. Get in touch with your academic advisor or your college’s outreach program for veterans (if there is one) to discuss your options and plan for financing before you take out student loans.

  1. Adjust Your Work-Life Balance

The unpredictable nature of civilian life can cause worry or fear for veterans who have been in service for a long time. If you experience anxiety or depression that you cannot handle on your own, seek help. You’re not alone in feeling alienated and poorly adjusted when you return from years of service. Focus on what you can control: Create your own study plan and schedule for each week of classes, and communicate with your peers and instructors for clarity.

  1. Prepare for Challenges Unique to Veterans

Depending on the type of work you did in the military, you may be facing re-entry challenges such as difficulty adjusting to a civilian schedule, trouble in relationships or even post-traumatic stress from time spent in combat. According to Pew Research Center, 27% of veterans report difficulty in their readjustment period. If you served within the decade after the September 11, 2001, attacks, you have a 44% chance of having an extremely hard time reintegrating yourself into civilian life.

  1. Keep Your End Goal in Mind

Starting school or going back to college after a long absence can be difficult for veterans and civilians alike. Stay alert and create a series of short-term and long-term goals. If your long-term goal is to graduate with a specific degree, are you taking the classes you need to reach it? If your short-term goal is to get a particular grade in a class, are you on track to making that happen? Your study habits, self-care, and organizational ability all factor into how successful your school career will be.

Undertaking a new degree program can be difficult for a veteran who has grown used to the daily life of military service. Set up your own structure and regularly evaluate your mental health to assess stress, burnout, and anxiety. Communicate with those willing to help, such as instructors, classmates, family, and friends, for successful reintegration to civilian life and college.

Adam Evans, Citebrain.com