I recently found an article about the issues faced by student veterans at my alma mater. The article perfectly outlined why student veterans drop out of school.

I figured that other universities were experiencing the same problems as my school, and wanted to know what was being done to solve these issues.

That’s when I looked deeply at the 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success. These are proven steps that community colleges, colleges and universities can implement to help you transition from the military and into the classroom, and then thrive once you are there.

Problems Faced By Veterans In College

You’ve probably heard of or experienced stories like the article described:

  • The student veteran community felt unsupported by the university’s administration.
  • The director of the Veteran Resource Team resigned because he was unable to effectively maintain a successful veterans program.
  • The veteran students had inadequate facilities to meet and talk about their experiences together.

And incredibly, veterans were being harassed by fellow students.

The university administration promised improvements, but there was a stark contrast between what was promised and what was delivered.

Sound familiar to you?

The 8 Keys to Success

(Courtesy: Alex Horton, The Atlantic)

Never Assume School Will Be Easy For You

Transitioning to civilian life can be difficult enough. So many veterans already face readjustment issues, along with recovery from physical and mental injuries.

And without extra assistance, a lot of veterans will fail to graduate.

What about the GI Bill?

You might ask, won’t the GI Bill give veterans all the help they need?

The GI Bill provides funding, but it’s not a support system.

The GI Bill is intended to get you through college and back into the working world. Most veterans who served on active duty since September 10, 2001 qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Of the GI Bill, Tom Tarantino of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America says:

“The GI Bill isn’t a thank you for your service. What it really is is a readjustment benefit. It is giving them the opportunity to do something that is constructive for their mind and their body, that gives them a mission and allows them to move forward in life. It’s a backstop so you’re not walking right off the plane from combat in to the civilian world. It was designed to be a soft landing.”

Not only does GI Bill money pay for your education, it’s also a huge incentive to colleges and universities because your GI Bill payment is guaranteed by the government.

So it’s in the schools’ best interests to provide a great environment and support for veterans attending school, right?

Why then do so many schools fail to keep veterans on campus? Is it because school administrations don’t understand what student veterans need to succeed in college?

The 8 Keys to Success Is a New Program Built on Proven Methods

(Image: Stephen M. Katz | The Virginian-Pilot)

The 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success Is a New Program Built on Proven Methods

The 8 Keys to Success was developed by President Obama’s administration in conjunction with the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The 8 Keys program answers the concerns of academics and veterans’ advocates, who warn that many schools today are unprepared to deal with the unique needs of current and former service members.

The 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success Provide These Guidelines

1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.

2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.

3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.

4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size).

5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.

6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion.

7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.

8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.

The 8 Keys to Success provide standardized guidelines and programs for all schools to help them support YOU.

How The 8 Keys to Success Help You Graduate From College

(Image: Larry Abramson/NPR)

Want an Easy Way to Find THE Right School for You?

When you’re choosing your target colleges, look for schools who adhere to the 8 Keys to Success. These schools want to do right by you and have promised to work hard to earn your trust.

You can find all the schools who have committed to these standards on the 8 Keys website. It’s a massive spreadsheet, but it’s a good resource to have.

Of course, CollegeRecon provides that information in our school profiles.

You can research schools on CollegeRecon.com to find those institutions with the right balance of veteran support – 8 Keys to Success, credits for military experience, financial assistance – and personal preferences that are right for you.

Use the data points to guide you, do your research, and pick the school that’s right for you.

Just remember that the 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success are important factors to consider.

Can the 8 Keys help you succeed in school?

Yes.

But what do you think? Have you attended a school who is committed to the 8 Keys and did not provide a good experience for you? Do you attend a college who hasn’t committed to the program, yet exceeds your expectations?

Let us know in the comments below.

(Featured Image Courtesy: Arizona State U.)