For many ex-soldiers, returning to society can feel like playing catch-up. If you’re wondering what to do with yourself now you’re back on American soil, it might be worth turning your talents towards education - there are almost unlimited course options and, with veteran-focused assistance programs, enrolment is easier and more affordable than ever.
Why Go Back?
In the past, it was uncommon for Americans to return to education later in life but these days it’s a common trend - over 92% of part-time undergraduates are mature students, many of whom are balancing a degree with work. In other words, stigma shouldn’t hold you back from applying and there’s a good chance you’ll meet people of a similar age and situation on your course. Better still, digital learning is growing increasingly popular and a great many courses can be taken remotely, meaning you won’t need to worry about your location, so long as you have access to a good computer.
Usually, we take degrees to improve our earning potential and career prospects. Although sometimes the people around us can be disparaging of the benefits of college, statistics show that the value of a degree has actually risen over time. Everyone’s circumstances are different but there is a good chance that by acquiring a valid certification, you’ll be able to set yourself up for long-term professional advancement.
If you’re spending the money, you may want to maximize your return-on-investment and get qualified in a lucrative and relevant field. It’s true, not all degrees are equal in value - depending on market movements, some will hold more monetary potential than others. Sure bets are business, accounting, economics, corporate finance, and engineering - a master’s in business administration, for example, can equip you with skills in management, communication, and strategic planning & implementation. This can, in turn, lead to career options as a general manager, operations director, business administrator, and more.
You may find, having reviewed your options, that traditionally lucrative degrees don’t interest you. There is something to be said about choosing a degree that you know may not lead to excellent career prospects but that addresses a deeper, more profound curiosity. The humanities and the arts remain available for those who want to pledge their time towards better understanding the world and focusing on making it a better place.
How Can I Get Started?
As a veteran, you may face some unique challenges when trying to enroll in a degree. Many ex-servicepeople struggle with disabilities, for example. Rest assured that in any circumstance, colleges are required to accommodate all conditions. If your personal limitations are financial, there’s help for that too. Military members can benefit from DEA assistance, grants, scholarships, or career advancement funds that benefit both you and your loved ones. These resources are available for application online and often go unclaimed, so make sure you apply early as the process can take up to 6 months.
When it comes to enrolling, you should ideally be looking for colleges that accept transfer and military class credits. If you previously attended college, sometimes you can transfer units to a new school - if you’re unsure of regulations, you can reach out to the designated VA certifying official (most colleges will have one).
College is more accessible than ever for military veterans. With the help of grants, assistance programs, online learning portals, and designated officials, the power is in your hands to re-educate and acquire a degree that could lead to professional success in the long term.
GIVE is a not-for-profit organization providing golf programs for injured Iowa Veterans who use the Iowa City VA Health Care System. Learn more about our foundation, at: www.giveforveterans.com