During your time in service, you learned a lot. However, not everything you were taught at home or overseas can prepare you for the career of your dreams. When your final tour is over, you might want to use your veteran benefits to further your education. Here are a few tips from the Semper Fi Design blog to help you transition from active duty to academics.
You have resources, use them.
It is easy to forget all of the financial assistance available to veterans. But, if you served for at least 90 days in active duty, you are likely eligible for the GI Bill. This will pay for up to 100% of your tuition, lab fees, and textbooks. You may also use your benefit as part of your monthly housing allowance. The yellow ribbon program is another option, and it may kick in if your G.I. Bill doesn’t provide full benefits. Approximately 1800 schools in the US are part of the program, and you must have served at least three years to qualify.
In addition to financial aid, veterans also have, according to Military.com, access to free career counseling. If you don’t already have a career trajectory in mind, a career counselor can help you make a decision and point you in the direction of a lucrative career.
Choose a degree that capitalizes on your strengths.
Choosing a degree is just as tricky as choosing a career path. Many veterans choose to pursue criminal justice to become a police officer, detective, or crime scene analyst. If you were a corpsman, a degree in nursing (or an EMT certification) may be a natural segue into civilian life. When you have a knack for all things tech, consider pursuing an online IT degree, which will give you the skills you need for a career in programming, cybersecurity, or management information systems. Before committing to an educational trajectory, get to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve received career counseling, you have already been evaluated.
Be prepared for the not-so-subtle nuances of civilian life.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally for the transition into civilian life. During active duty, every part of your day is regimented. There’s no question about what you’re doing and who’s got your back. But, going to a completely different environment means having to acclimate to a whole new set of rules.
Something else to consider is that, while you are used to being busy and getting things done on a deadline, going back to school is an entirely new experience altogether. It may take time to get used to working independently where you have been used to a brotherhood that freely shared information with one another. College is stressful enough for civilians; add in the potential for PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues often experienced by veterans, and you add a new level of difficulty. The Conversation asserts, however, that most college campuses offer resources for veterans experiencing stress and strain as a new college entrant.
As veterans, we are often caught off guard by the challenges we face going back to school. But you have faced worse before, and you will conquer this battle like you have all others. But first, prepare yourself. Know the resources available to you and don’t be afraid to pursue a degree that capitalizes on your strengths so that you can enter the professional world combat-ready.
Semper Fi Design is Veterans helping other veterans succeed. Whether you want a website for your small business or a full-blown video for your business, product or service Semper Fi Design has you covered. Contact us today, and let us showcase your small business in its best light.