Even a few years in the military can open up a lot of doors when it comes to accessing and financing higher education later in life. If you are one of the many service members who want to go to college following active duty, then there are a few things you should consider while you are still serving. Keeping an eye on the future and planning for it years in advance takes a lot of the stress and uncertainty out of transitioning back into civilian life.
Pursue Training Opportunities
There are plenty of fundamental personal and professional skills gained at any level of military service, but many of the most valuable abilities are built through vocational training for specific job responsibilities. These opportunities are limited based on location, rank and personal ability, but most service members have chances to pursue education and practical experience as part of their normal duties.
Consider Flexible Academic Programs
Active members of the military often have little free time during the first year or two of their service and daily availability is never a sure thing. However, many people currently serving can jump-start their future education by enrolling in a few courses with flexible schedules. Some institutions, like the University of Maryland University College, offer academic programs specifically tailored to veterans and service members who have to balance several competing responsibilities.
Take Time to Establish a Civilian Life
It’s easy to dream about all the things you’ll do when you have full command of your schedule once again, but many veterans face boredom and unforeseen challenges in the months after they leave the service. Reconnecting with family, building fresh social networks and establishing a sense of personal identity can take time. Rushing to get into school and placing extra demands on yourself during this period can make thing worse, so consider waiting for a few months before starting classes.
Participate in Structured Activities
Another challenge of transitioning to civilian life is a lack of unstructured activities. Some veterans struggle to adapt to the sudden void of structure and order that they lived in before, particularly when they are surrounded by a busy and chaotic college environment. Participating in limited volunteer activities, adopting structured physical fitness routines or joining military reserve programs are all possible options for grounding yourself.
Despite all of the obstacles that military members face throughout their years of service, they aren’t always prepared for the challenges that come with successfully completing college in the years after. These tips are just a few of the ways you can set yourself up for academic success whether you are a new veteran or are still on active duty.