Today’s colleges and universities want YOU, service members, veterans and military spouses — and new centers are opening on campuses all across the country to accommodate your needs.
Student Veteran Centers are all the rage at many schools these days, ranging from a room set aside as a special retreat for student veterans to entire buildings with everything from computer labs to counselors and campus liaisons. The idea, say officials, is to create a welcoming environment for military-affiliated students to ensure a positive college experience and help promote successful degree completion.
Florida State University celebrates its status as a veteran-friendly university, creating a Student Veteran Center on campus that offers a transition point for veterans working their way back into the classroom.
Retired Air Force Col. William “Billy” Francis says FSU wants to integrate, not separate, their student veterans, but that the center offers a one-stop shop for everything from deciphering GI Bill benefits to helping veterans get involved on campus.
“We want [veterans] to feel like they’re coming to a comfortable place, more like a home instead of a large institution,” he said. “If you look at successful people, a common trait is that they’re not afraid to ask for advice or guidance…We are encouraging them to do that.”
Robert Mills joined the Army in 2003, became an Army Ranger and had four combat tours — three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He deployed to Kuwait with the Florida National Guard to Kuwait in 2010 as a sniper, and talks about becoming a student veteran.
“Being a student veteran definitely has its fair share of challenges,” he said. “It’s difficult getting back into the routine of being a student when you’ve been away for so many months, years, days.”
Coming to Florida State made the transition very easy, he said. “Prior to the veteran’s initiative, if I had a class that conflicted with my National Guard training, some professor would tell me, ‘hey, that’s not my problem. You need to drop the class.’ Now, in the last few years, more professors are understanding of students who still have military obligations.”
Abby Kinch, who attended college after high school but focused more on the “social aspect,” joined the Air Force after 9/11. She later decided she needed to return to school, but had a different perspective. “Student veterans definitely have challenges adapting to civilian college life — I know I did,” she said.
“I really couldn’t relate to other students because I viewed everything from a different context because I’d serving my country,” said Kinch. “The Student Veterans Center helped me connect with others and got me to the point where I was more comfortable with my college experience.”
Visit FSU for more information.
The Lt. Gen. William K. Jones Military-Affiliated Student Center at the University of Kansas offers nearly 3,000 square feet of space, including study and tutoring rooms, free printing, scanning and copying services and a lounge and break room for those needing to take a break from their studies. It also serves as the headquarters for the KU Student Veterans of America chapter.
The center is open to all military-affiliated students at the university, including spouses and children of veterans.
“The center is at the heart of our initiatives,” said April Blackmon Strange, the center’s director. “And we want it to be a place where our military-affiliated students can feel welcome and at home at KU.”
Visit KU for more information on the center.
Not just at big schools
Smaller colleges also offer services to student veterans navigate their college experience.
California State University, San Bernardino’s Veterans Success Center is a 1,200 square foot facility, which houses eight computer stations where student veterans and military members can work on assignments, and a group room for students to congregate between classes and hold study groups. The center offers dynamic programs that are comprehensive in scope and sensitive to the unique needs of service members.
Visit California State University for more information.
Excelsior College in New York offers free tutoring and benefits assistance at their Lt. Col Bryant A. Murray Veterans Center. The school also offers a mentorship program through the Veteran Services Office and other student veteran services throughout campus.
No matter the size or scope of your college of choice, there are almost always options there for students like yourself. Student Veteran Centers offer a single point of contact to coordinate support to military-connected students. The trick is to plug in and take advantage of everything your school has to offer.Read comments