Posted by: Dan | June 12, 2012

Is Your School Military-friendly?

Life is just the time you have between episodes of Game of Thrones. You’re filling it up with college. While you focus on schoolwork, your school should help you transition from the military and reduce some of your stress. It should have staff to help answer your financial aid questions and provide counseling services. But those are the basics… A military-friendly school does even more.

1. How to get college credit for your military experience. You’re not gonna believe this… but it’s true. Some of your military training and experience may translate into college credit. It varies by the school and your military experience. Also, you may not know how many credits are transferable until you enroll, but you should learn what a school’s policy is before enrolling. This could help you earn your degree sooner! Check out the Military Transfer Guide – everything you need to know to transfer your credits.

2. Yellow Ribbon.  If you’re going to attend a public school as an in-state resident, skip this section, since the GI Bill covers in-state tuition for public schools. The Yellow Ribbon Program is an added bonus to the 9/11 GI Bill. Some schools offer this, but they may only offer it to a limited number of students. Schools that have a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) provide an additional contribution towards your tuition and fees, and the VA matches that amount. For more details, and an example with calculations, click here.

Use the Yellow Ribbon Checklist:

–       Is your school involved with the Yellow Ribbon program?

–       How many veteran students in your program are entitled to use Yellow Ribbon benefits? In some programs, the school does not provide Yellow Ribbon benefits to all veterans.

–       How much will your school contribute towards the Yellow Ribbon program?

–       What additional steps are required to enroll in Yellow Ribbon benefits?

3. Veteran Clubs. While you’re applying to schools, see if each school has a veterans club. Ask the Veterans Affairs coordinator to put you in touch with current veteran students. You may be able to contact the veterans club’s leaders through a website. Are these students helpful? If you were at the school, would you want to hang out with them? The Student Veterans of America (SVA) are described here.

4. Transition Counseling and Placement Services. Six months ago you were in Afghanistan, and now you’re sitting in Biology with an 18-year-old who is more concerned with tagging their friends in Facebook photos while listening to “Call me maybe” through their headphones than learning about adenosine triphosphate (ATP for the geeks out there). You actually do have things in common, though. What classes should you take? Based on your skills and interests, what careers should you consider? Does your school help you prepare your resume, translating your military experience into language that civilians will understand? Ask your school’s veterans affairs contact if resources are available to assist veterans through those discussions and activities. No one’s going to hand deliver you a job, but military-friendly schools will give you the tools necessary to succeed.

If you’re in school, what else makes your school military-friendly? Post your comments below and send any questions to switchstarter@gmail.com

© 2012 SwitchStarter, LLC

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