Concerns Surround Veteran Recruiting Practices, But a New Forum Offers Hope

Posted By Eliana Osborn on September 17, 2015 at 11:24 am
Concerns Surround Veteran Recruiting Practices, But a New Forum Offers Hope

Benefits for veterans to attend college have played a large role in shaping higher education since World War II.  With a recent resurgence of the GI Bill, more and more active and reserve military are attending colleges and universities. And the sheer dollar amount involved is enough to make the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs pay close attention to how the process is working.

One primary area of concern? How colleges recruit and cater to veteran students.  For-profit colleges have been especially under scrutiny, with their high default rates, aggressive marketing tactics and questionable statistics.  A recent PBS report asserts that 40% of veteran education funds are going to for-profit schools whose degrees often have little value in the workforce.

Savvy veterans, however, can use their benefits to build a path to a whole new career.  A 2014 study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that the best veteran services were at public colleges with large populations. Unfortunately, however, these schools are not always the ones most focused on recruiting and getting their name in front of potential students.

When institutions decide to actively recruit veterans, they need to follow up with dedicated on-campus services for these students.  Research shows that veterans, in particular, are more likely to be successful in college when there are programs and offices specifically tailored for their needs.  Those needs include counseling and advisement, as well as help with the logistics of transitioning to civilian life.  For older veterans, the campus atmosphere can be especially stressful without the rules and structure of military life.

A new  online system for complaints has made it possible for veterans to share their concerns about education-related issues.  With so many students, and so many involved in for-profit schools, this is a step towards improving the GI Bill program.  As agencies discover which colleges are successfully working with veterans and which are simply collecting their money, better policies can be put into place.

For public institutions trying to improve their recruitment of veterans, knowing the pitfalls students have faced at other schools is a tremendous help.  And for the lawmakers and taxpayers funneling billions of dollars into veteran education, more accountability can only be a positive step.  Today’s veterans need to be vigilant in making smart choices about their education—even when the money for it is coming from Uncle Sam.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

You May Also Like