A Back-to-School Guide for Veterans

Sep 3, 2021

Veteran at desk reading

Image courtesy of Pexels

When it comes to re-entering civilian life, many veterans aren’t sure how to jump start their post-military careers off on the best foot. If you’re wondering what your best course of action is, it might be worth going to college or going back for a post-graduate degree. After all, your time in the military has given you the dedication, discipline, and perseverance you need to do well in school, and earning a degree can be the first step toward unlocking an amazing career you can be proud of.

That said, the process can be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re not even sure where to start. The Patriots Initiative shares some info to help you get started on the path to a degree.

Considering Your Options

When it comes to earning a degree – whether undergraduate or post-graduate – your very first step isn’t collecting transcripts or filling out applications — it’s exploring your options. Start by asking yourself some very basic questions to consider potential degree choices: What am I interested in? What topics excite me? What subjects have I excelled in in the past? For example, if you’ve always had a head for problem solving and enjoy directing others, you could be a good candidate for a business degree.

Finding Financial Aid

If you can’t work while you’re studying — or your job won’t cover the cost of tuition — you’ll need to figure out financial aid. The great news is, there are a plethora of options for vets who want to earn a degree. Scholarships and grants are your best bet if you can find them since they don’t need to be repaid. However, they’re usually contingent on earning a certain GPA or other measures of success, so be aware that they can put additional pressure on your shoulders.

There are also student loan programs that can help mitigate costs for veterans. Loans, however, have to be paid back, and some can have pretty high-interest rates, as well. If you’re going the loan route, try to focus on federal loans over private loans whenever possible. These almost always have lower interest rates and more forgiving repayment plans than their private counterparts. If you do take out a private loan, plan from the start for how you’ll repay it, and make sure you completely understand your loan agreement to avoid unpleasant and costly surprises down the line.

Crafting Your Success Plan

Finally, you should always craft a success plan for yourself when you start any kind of college course. This should be a detailed plan that goes over everything from which courses you’ll take to what times of day you’ll study. Try to think of obstacles that might come up, such as work or family obligations, and how you’ll navigate them. There are always going to be roadblocks when it comes to reaching a goal — plan ahead, and you’ll know how to work around them.

Getting a college or post-graduate degree takes courage, discipline, and dedication — something veterans have in droves. Going back to school is a great way to take the skills you’ve learned in the military and put them toward unlocking a new and exciting career path!

Guest blog piece authored by Kelli Brewer of Disclosure: This information has been provided for educational or informational purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as consultative advice. The Patriots Initiative is not responsible for the accuracy of any third-party information, nor any sites or organizations that are referenced via trackbacks or html links. Opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. The Patriots Initiative has exercised all reasonable professional care in preparing this information. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, The Patriots Initiative has not independently verified, or attested to, the accuracy or authenticity of the information provided by third parties. The Patriots Initiative is not responsible for the accuracy of any third-party information on this Website, nor any sites that are referenced via trackbacks or html links.

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