July 22, 2009

Recruiting those who serve

Jul. 22, 2009 at 11:36 AM | By Dan Obregon | Comment Count

Since its inception after W.W. II, the G.I. Bill has helped provide access to higher education to hundreds of thousands of military veterans. Now, as the Post-9/11 GI Bill is slated to take effect on August 1, higher education preparing for the potential influx of veterans that will take advantage of this opportunity.

According to a report published by the Lumina Foundation for Education:

"The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers the nearly 2 million servicemembers who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts generous support for educational expenses, and is expected to prompt a significant upturn in thenumber of veterans and military personnel enrolling in higher education."

This potential upturn has many institutions wondering how they can approach these new prospects. But the report states that while some schools (particularly public institutions) have increased their efforts, many are still grappling with their higher education marketing and outreach strategies to this new constituency.

USA Today columnist Mary Beth Marklein highlights some of the reports findings, noting that among schools that say they have services for service members and veterans:

  •     82% provide the VA education benefits counseling for military students
  •     81% award college credit for military training.
  •     79% have a policy to refund tuition for military activations and deployments.
  •     32% have a club or other organization for military students.
  •     23% have staff trained to help veterans with brain injuries.
  •     22% provide assistance in transitioning to the college environment


She also notes that the report stated that two-thirds of survey respondents said they have increased their emphasis on service members and veterans since 9/11, and 60% include programs for such students in their long-term strategic plans.  And, The Chronicle reported earlier this month that more than 1,100 institutions have joined the Yellow Ribbon Program.

However, after conducting a few quick scans of some major college and university sites (admittedly an imperfect test) I've found little evidence that institutions are actively seeking to educate veterans about their options.  Some institutions have made efforts to promote their efforts to become more veteran friendly, like this press release issued earlier this week. 

But what about ongoing higher education outreach?  As the report notes, some of the major challenges for recruiting military students involve not just connecting with them, but retaining them and providing ongoing service and communication that meets the needs of their unpredictable schedules.

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