Let’s discuss education for a moment. We have all attended school in our lifetime, some of us enjoying it more than others, however, most understand the importance of getting a good education- but that doesn’t mean it needs to be in the form of a ‘traditional’ college education. In a study conducted by the Post-secondary National Policy Institute, in 2017 among all students who had attained a bachelor’s degree, less than 1% were veteran students and 52% of veteran’s students had attained no degree or certificate, compared to 43.7% of non-veteran students. These numbers continue to decrease across the veteran community and conclude that the college education route may not be the right fit for everyone.
For myself, it wasn’t until after separating from the military that I felt confident enough about school to attend college. School had never been my strong suit. Early on I struggled to comprehend anything I read and had difficulties in math. It resulted in a lot of tutoring, which did not help my confidence.
My confidence from being in the military made me feel like I could take on school, that compared to what I had already accomplish, school would be nothing. With the new-found confidence I began school while serving my last two years in the Marines. I completed all my general education, without using any of my GI Bill. Being active duty and attending school in California, my tuition and books were paid for and I had received a Pell Grant from FASFA.
After I separated, I continued my education and received my bachelors in Supply Chain Management, which only took two years since I had completed half of the degree while on active duty. During this time, I received monthly housing allowance, books and tuition covered, and went to school full-time (12 credit hours). Shortly after completing my bachelor’s degree, I enrolled in a MBA program to get my master’s degree- still while using the GI Bill to cover my tuition and books. Since I only touched two years after separating for my bachelors, I had time left to apply towards my masters.
This may not be the path everyone wants to take and it may not align with the goals each person has, that is why the VA offers many alternative programs designed to fit individual interest. We explore these options in great detail throughout the Life After the Military: 101 course on the Troop Link site.
If you are interested in a trade school or college education or would like to begin working, there are a lot of great resources throughout the VA, on the Troop Link site, and in our community, that can get you on the path you are looking for!