Once separated from the military, you will be faced with making very important life decisions. One of those decisions will be to head back to the classroom using your military education benefits. Just like the military plans its next mission in battle, you too will need to plan your mission in school. Start out by asking yourself a couple of key questions:
What will you study?
– There is a program for everyone, but it comes down to what interests you in life, what your strengths are, and what field you can see yourself working in for years to come. Even though you may have served as a soldier in the military, it doesn’t mean that you have to study criminal justice or be a police officer in the civilian world. College will give you more choices to choose from.
Where will you study?
– A big University, a small College, Local Community College, a Vocational-Technical school, a For-Profit school, Colleges with a specific focus? Many to choose from so be sure to learn the pros and cons of each before deciding, but don’t worry we will work on this together.
(Stay tuned as I will be breaking down the types of schools in my upcoming article)
Some of you will already have the answer to these tough questions well before you’re about to be handed your DD-214, but many of you will need some time. However, by doing your homework well before your last days in the military, you will be putting yourself in a better position to be ready for your new mission in life as a student.
For those of you who can answer these questions, you may be wondering, what’s the next step?
First and foremost, while school is in session, take a ride over to the college of choice, walk the campus, take a peek in the classrooms, and mingle with other students to get a feel of whether or not this school will fit your needs. If you’re impressed with what you see, then find your way to the Admissions Counselor; this will be the person to ask any questions you may have.
The counselor will go over everything with you such as courses, entrance exam (if it applies), tuition rates, schedule of classes, and even direct you to the veterans group on campus. When speaking to the Admissions Counselor, be sure to inquire about “Life Credits”. These are credits that you have earned serving in the military that can be transferred over, so be sure to have your military transcripts in hand. Though I chose a different field to study in school, than the field I chose in the military, the Community College I attended gave me credit for physical training, allowing me to scratch gym class off the to-do list.
After speaking to an Admissions Counselor and deciding this is the school for you, the next step would be asking for help applying for your military education benefits. Today, a school may have one or more staff members acting as a veteran’s rep. These staff members have been given training to help student veterans file for the GI Bill or Post 9/11 bill. Because of the VA backlog, receiving GI Bill monies could take up to two months or longer, so the earlier you apply before the start of the semester, the better.
DID YOU KNOW
A veteran collecting the GI Bill or Post 9/11 Bill can still be eligible for Federal Financial Aid and other educational assistance. For more info and how to apply, visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/