Student Veterans' College Experiences: Demographic Comparisons, Differences in Academic Experiences, and On-Campus Service Utilization

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Background: The GI Bill has given United States military veterans the opportunity to afford and enroll in colleges and universities for nearly seventy years. In the Fall of 2009, the Post-9/11 GI Bill started helping a new generation of student veterans pay for their post-secondary education and earn degrees and certificates. The Post-9/11 GI Bill combined with a competitive work force and weak global economy, has led to an increase in student veteran enrollment in recent years. Although the student veteran population at many post-secondary schools has sharply increased in recent years, little research has been devoted to this segment of the college population. This leaves many colleges, universities, and policy makers uninformed while making decisions affecting student veterans. Method: In the Fall of 2010, an online web survey was launched through the Student Veterans of America website to collect data on student veterans' military experiences, physical and mental health, and demographics. A follow-up survey was sent in the Spring of 2011 focusing on their academic performance, school experiences, on-campus service utilization, and post-deployment experiences. Respondents were matched through a self-generated identifier. Descriptive and inferential analysis techniques were used to compare student veterans to similar populations, explore within group differences of student veterans' academic performance and school experiences, and student veterans' use of on-campus services. Results: Student veterans differed from traditional college students and the general U.S. veteran population, but were similar to the current U.S. Military. Significant differences in GPA were found between student veterans' military experiences and health, while significant associations were found between student veterans' mental health and college experiences. Student veterans who used certain on-campus services reported receiving academic benefits from these services. However, several barriers to using on-campus services were also reported. Discussion: Based on this study's findings, a new model with two paths was developed. A resilience path illustrates student veterans' military service and on-campus services positively affecting their academic performance, while a risk path illustrates the student veterans' mental health negatively affects student veterans' academic performance and college experiences. Implications for policy, practice, and research are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 0519:School counseling
  • 0745:Higher education
  • 0750:Military studies
  • Academic performance
  • Education
  • GI Bill
  • Higher education
  • Military experience
  • Military studies
  • On-campus services
  • School counseling
  • School experience
  • Social sciences
  • Student veteran
  • Veteran

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  • Chris Andrew Cate

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