[May 21, 2014] I spoke today to a group of military veterans and college staff about why so many military members fail at making a successful transition from active duty to the college environment. I’ve also written about this transition (see link here).
In the past I proposed three key ingredients for a successful transition.
- Passion – the motivation, inner-drive to do what it takes to succeed
- Adaptability – those that are most successful in college are not the smartest or strongest but those that quickly adjust to new demands
- Structure – moving from the military to college takes a person from the most to least structured environment; therefore, the military student must methodically build their own structure
Most questions and discussion involved what it was like for a military veteran, especially a combat veteran, to sit beside an 18-year old student and the same classroom. The wide gulf in experiences, values, and priorities is striking. Many told me they found the recent high school students to be focused on unimportant things and ignore things that matter.
We discussed the importance of networking with everyone, inside and outside the college. That means getting to know the secretary, the janitor, and other lower-level employees because it is the right thing to do. It also provides the veteran student with a good source of information for those learning the college bureaucracy.
I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting today and look forward to spending more time with veteran students.
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The slideshow that I put together is here at this link: http://www.slideshare.net/douglasrsatterfield/transition-military-to-college
The Veterans Administration link for information on the GI Bill is here: http://www.gibill.va.gov/