top of page

Veterans: Going to College Offers a Range of Options for the Future

Guest post by: Julia Mitchell—

When veterans are looking for career options, it may be advantageous to explore the idea of going to college. Being a college student is challenging, but veterans are built to face difficulty. Often, those struggles reveal strong leadership skills that can be easily transferred into a career. Why We Lead offers veterans a diverse range of podcasts, videos, and interviews with professionals to build knowledge and promote leadership.

On the topic of self-development, Captain Little aptly stated, "the military does an excellent job of identifying and developing self-motivated leaders." Veterans who have seen their inner motivation emerge during service should consider college as a means of self-development. Many lucrative and rewarding careers begin with a college education, and veterans can access these positions and thrive due to their intrinsic leadership skills. If you are a veteran considering college, you may wonder where to start.

Getting Started Toward College

Before enrolling in a program, veterans should consider the career they are interested in pursuing. Often an aptitude test can help guide prospective students who are unsure of the academic path that is right for them. Veterans often have specialized training in specific areas as part of their military experience, and this may be a helpful guide toward a career. Choosing a major can be complicated. Fortunately, career centers can help guide the process. Opting to take core-curriculum classes such as math, English, or science is a way to get started without committing to a major. Starting with a few classes can also help ease the transition between military service and student life.

It is imperative to contact your VA representative as you begin your journey toward college life. VA reps can assist you with the application process, help navigate you through the paperwork to receive your benefits, and, in some cases, complete forms on your behalf. You may be able to transfer some of your military skills into college credits-which is another way your VA representative can be helpful in your transition to college. As you think about a program of study, also consider options for taking your classes.

Flexible Options

College used to have more significant limitations for students than it does today. Students can now elect to take classes in-person or online, depending on what works best for them. Veterans may wish to take courses while continuing to work. Online classes can be completed at one's convenience around the schedules of work or home life.

Suppose a veteran opts to take online business courses, for example. In that case, they can understand how to run a company and lead employees while working an existing job. The flexibility of online learning is appealing to many veterans, whether they are studying to be a business leader, a teacher, or a medical provider. Fortunately, there are many degree programs available for veterans to consider. In the transition to becoming a college student, it may help to think about ways to incorporate studies into your life.

Tips for Being a Student

Veterans who have been out of school for a while may feel intimidated about going to college. There are ways to establish yourself for success early on in your college experience. Arrange a schedule for yourself that offers plenty of time for courses, study time, and free time to decompress. You can use online study resources such as to assist with proofreading your academic papers. There are dozens of free resources to help you build good study habits.

Suppose you can decrease your work hours to accommodate your school responsibilities. In that case, it may help to reduce your overall stress levels. Sleep is crucial for students, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time for rest—late-night cram sessions may not be as productive as you might think. A well-rested mind can tackle exams with far greater accuracy than one that is sleep-deprived.

Veterans returning to academics after being out of school for a while may soon find that by creating a routine and accessing the right resources, their college journey will be more rewarding than they could have imagined.

bottom of page