Five Steps to Get Your College Education After Leaving the Military

Figuring out how to return to civilian life after service can be difficult, but making good use of veteran benefits to learn marketable skills can help. This article breaks down the process of going back to school into five steps. Schools offering Human Services - Military Resilience degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Military

Returning To Learning

You've recently completed your military service, now what? You can put your skills to use as a civilian and get your college education! The military supports you with the GI Bill and other important veterans resources. Read on to learn the first steps to earning your post-service college degree.

1. Prepare for College

Stop by the education center on your installation and meet with an education counselor. If you can't get to an education counselor, make sure you get all the information you can about your education benefits - your GI Bill benefits may differ depending on the date you entered the military and how long you've served.

Additionally, you'll need transcripts. Like any school, the military collects records of the training you've completed and how well you've done. Most colleges and universities have special registrars who can translate those records into credits, requiring you to take fewer classes at your new school.

A portal is available to all service members where they can download military transcripts and information about any service schools they've attended. You can have those records sent as official transcripts to your intended college - it could be harder to do so once you've separated from the military. Those records should include not only your evaluations, but also a description of the jobs you've held in the military.

2. Choose a School

Service members may benefit most by attending state colleges and universities. Several states allow soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines and coast guardsmen to pay in-state tuition regardless of their permanent addresses.

The GI Bill covers the entire cost of in-state tuition for public colleges and universities, but it does have a ceiling for tuition costs at private schools. You can find out more information by contacting a veterans center in your state, or connecting with an education center counselor before you separate from the military.

There are several scholarship programs for veterans, and several state-funded programs are only available by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are specialized financial aid counselors for military members at most state colleges and universities, and information about financial aid is available at each service-specific web portal.

3. Apply

Remember to keep track of deadlines and specialized application processes for veterans. It's important before filing your applications to ensure you have official copies of any documents needed for admission.

If you took any college courses while in the military, contact each of those schools to send official transcripts directly to the schools where you've applied. Most schools accept unofficial copies of transcripts from you when you begin the application process, but they need official copies by the time your application is complete.

4. Choose the Right Program

It's very important to do your research and connect with admissions counselors when choosing a program. Even if your career after military service is worlds away from the job you held as a service member, you should take into account all the skills and training you received when considering a new path of study.

On the other hand, choosing a major similar to your job in the military could have some benefits. You may have skills that overlap with those you'll learn, making the degree program a bit easier. In addition, you might hold certifications that eventually benefit your career. Be sure and share any pertinent information with your admissions counselor.

5. Find Support

Many service members indicate that camaraderie with and support from their fellow members contributes a great deal to their success in the military, and that same support and camaraderie can help you transition well to student life. However, you may know few, if any, service members at your chosen school, so it's important to make sure you develop a support system. Each branch of the military has transition offices, and they are a great place to start.

Once on campus, you should be able to find a veteran student organization. If not, the Student Veterans of America (SVA) website has more more information about connecting with other veteran students on your campus or starting an organization if one doesn't exist. In addition, SVA is a great resource for information about careers and the transition to work.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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