3 Common Hurdles Facing Students Who Are Veterans

July 12, 2016

Learn how to ease the transition from military service to college life.

Going to college can be tough for anyone, but if you’re a veteran, it can present a unique set of challenges. You might feel disoriented by the lack of routine or struggle with your identity. We talked to Cody Nicholls, assistant dean of students at the Veterans Education and Transition Services Center, for tips on how to make the transition to the classroom easier.

Hurdle 1: Adjusting to College Life

For veterans entering college, the flexible schedules and odd hours can be a huge change. “Military life is very regimented,” Nicholls says. “In the service, you’re told exactly where to be and when. Showing up to college is more like, ‘here are the keys, good luck.’” One of the best ways to combat this is to build (and stick to) your own set schedule. Even if your class start times vary, get up at the same time each day to help establish a routine.

Hurdle 2: Finding Community

“We always encourage the vets on campus to get involved in some way, whether that’s with other vets through our center, or something else entirely,” Nicholls says. “Having a community supporting you makes it harder to slip through the cracks.” Networking now can also mean greater success later. As you begin your job hunt, personal connections can be the key to landing a great gig.

Hurdle 3: Translating Your Experience

“It can be challenging to make a military resume appeal to civilian employers, so we work with our vets on building their personal brand. This includes things like switching from technical writing to academic, and building bridges between how the technical skills vets learn apply to real-world careers,” Nicholls says. It’s also important to set your career goals early on, he adds, as many of the employers the center works with have internship programs that can lead to careers.