So let’s cut to the chase, after my first article, 5 Keys to Getting the Most Out of Your Post Military College Time, I was inundated with a lot of e-mails either asking me what I thought about some idea or telling me that I forgot an important key to success at college.
No, I still don’t think that it’s a requirement for success that every veteran tries to join the cheerleading squad at their school to get in touch with their civilian side.
To be honest, there are plenty of things that we have all done to be successful as student veterans. However, along with the first five keys that I wrote about, the following five keys to success have universal applicability for student veterans.
1) Don’t rush into a program that hands out college credit for military experience
I’m a firm believer that unlike your normal 18 year olds, veterans are attending college with a fixed goal in mind. Nine times out of ten that goal is to get a job. You’ve probably read in the news or heard from a friend about how you shouldn’t immediately go to a school that hands out college credit and degrees for military experience. To be frank, if you’re in the military and you’re in one of those occupational specialties that requires a lot of points to be promoted, you would be crazy not to get your associates degree as fast as possible. However you shouldn’t let how you got your associates degree limit you to where you can get your bachelors degree. There are plenty of accredited community colleges and even some colleges that provide college credit for military experience and whose college classes transfer to fully accredited four year universities.
A safe bet when choosing a college to go to for your associates is a state run public community college.
2) Choose your college wisely
I’m just going to say it, nobody in the private sector respects a degree from DeVry, University of Phoenix, or American Military University. Why should they? I’ve heard a ton of veterans complain and state that these were the only schools that they could find with online programs. I’m here to tell you that this is just false and that you’re lazy for not having researched this more fully. Honestly, why would you go to Strayer to get an online degree, when you could go to Harvard? Think I’m joking? Here’s a list of online degree programs whose school names have creditability:
I could continue to add more schools to this list, but you should get the point. There are alternatives out there.
3) Don’t rush your way through college
I know that you are probably just going to school to get a degree. I also know that you probably feel like everybody who didn’t join the military and instead went straight to college is so far ahead of you. But I promise you, they’re not. While you shouldn’t waste your GI Bill or your time, don’t feel like you have to pile on a ton of courses to graduate sooner. More than likely you’ll burn yourself out, not take full advantage of being a college student, and hurt your GPA.
4) Use your career services
If you haven’t visited your career services office yet, don’t worry, you’re like most college students. The busiest months for your career services are the last two months before graduation, because that’s when the oh damn I’m graduating feeling sets in and students realize that they need to find a job. That’s also when you’re likely to get the worst service from your career services office. So while the vast majority of the time you’ll feel like you are wasting your time visiting the career services office, I promise you that you’re not. You never know when an opportunity for a job or an internship might arise and when it does you want to be the first person that the office thinks of by name for it.
Honestly, that’s how I got my first job with Oracle.
5) Network, network, network
The worst time to try and meet new people is when you need something from them. You can’t imagine how many times VFW posts, school services, mentor groups, etc. are hit up by people who only want something from them. Sure you want to think that everybody has a charitable and cherub disposition, but the fact of the matter is almost everybody hates being asked for a favor by someone they just met. So don’t be that person. Make sure to network with people before you need anything from them. If you’re unsure how to network, read The Art of Military Networking in 5 Simple Steps.