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Returning to School as a Veteran? Strategies For a Smooth Transition

By Brad Krause


​As a veteran transitioning to civilian life, you have many adjustments to make. Used to military experiences, it can be challenging to adapt to civilian life back at home. Often, veterans decide to go back to school or earn an online degree to build upon the skills they learned in the military — and combining your experience with education can be a valuable asset.


When considering going back to school as a veteran, it is essential to regard different aspects of your education, your goals, and the institutions you're thinking of applying to. You can use various tools and resources online that help you explore and research your options, related services, and other information you may need. According to various surveys, certain strategies can help veterans as they go back to school, and here are some of the best ones brought to you byVFW Post 8058:


Set Goals


Setting goals is a vital part of life — and the college application process — as it can guide you in the decisions you'll eventually make in terms of your education. Rather than applying to college and then determining your goals, it's a smart move to define your goals before you get too far along in the process.


Search for Colleges With a Veteran Population


As you begin searching for colleges, consider schools with a veteran population. A veteran student presence in the college usually means the school has a veteran's office or veteran's administrator, which means there are various resources you are eligible for. Having veterans on campus also means that the professors are accustomed to veteran students and their needs.


Consider Getting an Online Degree


Online programs may help applicants earn their degrees in less time than the average two- or four-year coursework. These programs are also ideal for veterans who want to study business, marketing, engineering, management, and other degree options available. Such degrees help students develop a plethora of skills while learning how to be self-aware, self-assess, lead, and develop relationships.


​For many learners, the main benefit of online learning involves scheduling flexibility. An online degree program ensures you enjoy lower total costs while receiving the same education — students can save time by eliminating the commute and money on textbooks. With the chance to study anywhere, online students can complete their courses in an environment that suits them best. Moreover, online learners have significant advantages of online classes regarding career advancement: a degree qualifies you for a rise. Some companies even reserve management-level positions for employees who have a bachelor's or master's degree.


Understand Your Benefits


The Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program allow veterans to receive substantial education benefits for their service. The funding you can get will depend on a few aspects, such as when you served and the length of time spent in the military. A veteran service officer or a student financial advisor can help you understand and apply to get your benefits. Other benefits you can be eligible for include VA Disability Compensation​, VET TEC program​, and more.




Although many college students think that networking is something to consider as they approach graduation, you should begin networking as soon as possible. This is one of the most critical steps that a learner can take to further their career. As much as 80 percent of companies' new hires come from employee referrals, so you get how important networking is.


You Have What It Takes


Starting a new career as an ex-military college graduate doesn't start at graduation. It doesn't even start with attending courses or even with applying to your school. It starts when you decide that pursuing a college education — whether in person or through an online degree program — is the right choice for you. The process is not always easy, but you are more than qualified to get through it, thanks to your military background.