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Veteran Student Perspective

Thousands of veterans are attending college. Is Higher Education (HE) meeting their needs? What can HE learn from the veterans?

Photo of Kate Rushton
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I wanted to highlight the perspective of non-traditional students in Higher Education in the US. 

I have included a TEDx talk from Christopher Webb - a veteran and ex-student at UNCAsheville on Student Veteran Awareness

He highlights some of the experiences of being a veteran attending college including the problem of class discussions, choosing a major when people have preconceptions about veterans etc. 

The moral obligation to know our veterans by Mike Haynie at the University of Nevada. 

He details that most people in the United States do not understand the challenges facing our veterans. 

My question is not only how can we ensure Higher Education meets the needs of veterans but also what can Higher Education learn from veterans?

This article mentions some of the skills you learn in the military. 

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

I am the Community Guide for this challenge. I have studied at Birmingham, Nottingham and Leeds University in the UK and graduated with qualifications in Biochemistry, Toxicology, and Environmental Management. I have held a number of jobs including being a TEFL teacher and energy analyst.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How can we ensure that Higher Education is inclusive to veterans? How can Higher Education utilise the skills and knowledge veterans have?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thanks for bringing this into the conversation Kate.  The videos are very informative and interesting.  As Christopher Webb points out towards the end of his talk in the video educational benefits are a big reason that youth enlist in military service in the US.  For some youth with limited economic means this is seen as a path to afford higher education, so it is vital to find ways for them to be able to succeed. 
You might be interested in the great work of the "Posse Foundation" in this regard.  "Posse" is a renowned college access and youth leadership development program focusing on youth in under served urban communities.   It is a "model that identifies promising students from…urban backgrounds using an alternative set of qualities as predictors of success in college. …The students that are selected form a ‘Posse’ and are provided with extra supports, and end up graduating from selective colleges with a very high success rate.”  Groups of 10 students, a posse, are formed by the program during high school years.  They are supported on their journey to and through college, by mentors, and by the other members of their posse.  They attend college together as a group, effectively taking their support system with them.  This has been found to be very effective in terms of enabling them to adjust to campus life and go on to graduate.  Similarly to Tim, the vet that Michael Haynie describes in the video above, youth from inner city communities have expressed not feeling like they fit in on elite college campuses.  This model seems to adjust very well for that.
The Posse model has now been expanded and adapted to support returning veterans, creating a path to and through higher ed at a few US selective colleges/universities.  The first partnership with the Posse Veteran Program was with Vassar College.  It has now expanded to two other schools, with plans to expand further.

The majority of returning veterans, like the majority of all college students, attend public institutions.  What can be learned from the approach that Posse takes, and applied to these institutions in terms of support and community building for veterans, and perhaps other older students who may come to college life with other life experiences, and perhaps different responsibilities?

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Bettina! I love the idea of the Posse Foundation. If you have time, would you write a post on Posse? If not, just say so and I will. I think it would be really valuable for the community to be aware of what it is and the benefits of the program (especially the fact that the program starts before college enrollment). 

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Kate.  Sure.  I didn't think of that.  I can get to it during the week.  I am a big fan of the work of Posse! 

Photo of Kate Rushton

Me too! We should all have posses in life. 

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

From their website: "Posse started in 1989 because of one student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me.”  (The founder of Posse is a social worker.  She overheard the student say this,  got the idea and the name for Posse.  Great human centered design!) 

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