MEASUREMENT OF STUDENT VETERANS PERSISTENCE IN ACHIEVING EDUCATIONAL GOALS WHILE ATTENDING COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN ILLINOIS

A Doctoral Dissertation Research Proposal

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Faculty of Argosy University, Schaumburg Campus

in Partial Fulfillment of

the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Business Administration 

By

Brian Gilligan

Argosy University

January, 2016

Dissertation Committee Approval:

________________________________________________________________________________

Susan Cain, D.B.A., Chair

________________________________________________________________________________

Timothy Buividas, D.B.A., Member

ABSTRACT

Today’s veterans enjoy a great deal of support from the American public. It seems reasonable to assume that all corners of American society would do what they can to assist veterans succeed after these Americans answer the call to serve the nation during a time of war. 

On college campuses, this translates to making reasonable efforts to make policies and pass laws to increase the likelihood that student veterans will succeed. 

Some of the motivating factors for young student veterans are to obtain a solid job, earn educational benefits, and make a better life for themselves and their families. Institutions of higher education, including community colleges, should partner with these student veterans to help them succeed.

Current and former military member students aspire to the same challenges and academic standards as all students and do not want their military service to be a detractor to their educational experience. 

Even though most university and college services are periodically evaluated by various accrediting agencies by states and the federal governments, few research studies have been performed in order to monitor substantive progress and effectiveness of providing appropriate programs and services developed  specifically for student veterans, especially at  the community college level, which will help students persist in their education. 

This dissertation study will be centered on evaluating the effectiveness of community colleges’ services, programs, and practices in recruiting, retaining, and graduating student veterans.

This research will examine the effect of the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other veteran educational benefit program on student retention of student veterans attending community or junior colleges in Illinois.  

Ex post facto data from community colleges will be compared with retention rates of student veterans attending these colleges using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for the period of 2009 to 2014.  This quantitative research will hopefully provide benchmarks for other institutions of higher education in Illinois and nationally through the use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other federal funding for student veterans.  

DEDICATION

This dissertation is dedicated to my wife, Janice, who has always been extremely supportive and helpful to me in all of my career and educational endeavors over the year, including this dissertation.  I truly value and appreciate her unconditional love and support. 

To my son, Kyle, who motivates me to excel, to always look forward and remain enthusiastic about life and its opportunities, and who continues to serve as my inspiration.  

To all members of the military, active and reserve, some of whom I have served with over the 25 years I have been affiliated with the U.S. Navy Reserve.  

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First and foremost, I want to thank all of the veterans of the U.S. military, as well as those individuals who are serving selflessly.  Their service and sacrifices for our country are greatly appreciated.  

I want to thank Dr. Cain and Dr. Buividas, my Dissertation Committee members, for their ongoing support, feedback, and engagement throughout this dissertation process.  Their dedication and commitment to working with me were critical to motivating me to do the best job possible on this dissertation.  As my Dissertation Chair, Dr. Cain in particular assisted me greatly with her guidance and patience in answering questions, calls and e-mails about scholarly research, particularly in the area of methodology.  Because of their involvement, this journey over the past several months has allowed me to develop and grow as a student, educator, and leader.  

Thank you to all of the staff at Argosy University Schaumburg and Chicago for their responsiveness and assistance over the last five years.  

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT…………………………………………………………………………………….  ii

DEDICATION…………………………………………………………………………………..iv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………………………………………………………………..v

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 

Problem Background……………………………………………………………………………………………………..1

Purpose of the Study………………………………………………………………………………………………………4

Research Questions or Hypotheses…………………………………………………………………………………..5

Assumptions…………………………………………………………………………………….6

Limitations……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6

Delimitations…………………………………………………………………………………….7

Definitions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….7

Importance of the Study………………………………………………………………………………………………….8

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………….9

Student Retention………………………………………………………………………………….9

Student Veterans and Community Colleges……………………………………………………..10

The Student Veteran and the College Experience……………………………………………….11

Addressing the Needs of Student Veterans at Community Colleges……………………………13

The Student Veteran Experience…………………………………………………………………16

Institutional Structure and Strategies…………………………………………………………….18

Creating Effective Learning Environments on Campus for Student Veterans…………………..19

Campus Services for Veterans……………………………………………………………………20

Theoretical Framework…………………………………………………………………………..22

Completing the Mission II:

A Study of Veterans Students’ Progress toward Degree Attainment in the Post-9/11 Era

Preface ……………………………………………………………………………………………26

Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………..28

Students Veterans Demographic…………………………………………………………………31                                                                    

Findings…………………………………………………………………………………………. 32                                                                                                                                 

Persistence Rates…………………………………………………………………………………34

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….38                                                                                                                                 

Chapter 2 Summary…………………………………………………………………….. ………40

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY

Introduction 40

Research Design

Research Philosophy-Interpretivism 42

Research Approach 43

Research Strategy 43

Site and Program Selection 43

Participant Selection 45

Data Collection 49

Hypotheses……………………………………………………………………………………….49

Validity, Reliability, and Trustworthiness 52

Conclusion 53

REFERENCES 55

APPENDICES

Appendix A………………………………………………………………………………………63

Appendix B………………………………………………………………………………………71

Introduction

Chapter 1 will give an introduction to the dissertation.  The chapter will outline the problem background, which involves student veterans enrolled in community colleges in the State of Illinois, as they transition from the military to two-year junior or community colleges.  The problem background will then lead to the problem statement, the purpose of the research project, research question, and significance of the study, definition of terms, assumptions, and limitations and delimitations of the study.  

Problem Background 

There are now millions of student veterans who are go to colleges and universities across the country in order to earn degrees.  In 2008, The U.S. Congress passed legislation called “The Veterans Educational Assistance Act”, which is also known as the Post-911 GI Bill.  The cost of this legislation, estimated at $36 billion to date, has resulted in an increased focus to achieve verifiable outcomes for those members who use the Post-911 GI Bill.  

The number of student veterans in institutions of higher education is increasing each year. Many of these Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) have created and maintain specific programs and services for this unique population of students.  However, most IHEs are unaware of the various transitional challenges that student veterans experience and therefore do not have the necessary programs to assist student veterans in a comprehensive manner. 

While each student is unique, there exist various characteristics to understand when trying to increase the enrollment and success of student veterans. As with all post-traditional (non-first-time, non-full-time) students, current and former service members face challenges associated with returning to school after time away from formal education. 

Returning to the college environment, or going through this experience for the first time, can be difficult, especially for those students who are conditioned to exist within hierarchical structures and then suddenly find themselves in an institution of higher education.

Another obstacle for student veterans is trying to balance multiple priorities – work, family, and academic commitments. Military service has helped individuals to develop and use skills and provide them with the confidence to overcome challenges and be committed.  These characteristics are important to college completion. However, many of these students discover they require assistance in translating these abilities to an academic environment. 

Current and former service members also face challenges, such as not knowing where to turn to for assistance, the types of questions to ask, and how to advocate for themselves in an often unfamiliar and complex system. These student veterans often need support to learn the language of higher education, like they had undergone necessary training in order to understand the military’s language of acronyms.

Students differ in other ways.  They value the cost of an education and try to gain knowledge from a class, in contrast to traditional students who attend class more as a matter of convenience (Caplan, 2011). 

As a group, veterans tend to achieve lower levels of degree attainment than non-veteran counterparts (Teachman, 2005). Teachman described short- and long-term educational gaps between veterans and non-veterans. Whether this is related to their military service remains less certain.  What we know about military service is that depending on service-related characteristics time spent in the military delays or disrupts their lives. 

Military veterans usually choose institutions based on financial considerations rather than institutional reputation, selectivity, or proximity. In one study, McNealy (2004) found that veterans select two-year over four-year universities for the perceived financial benefits. 

In addition, McNealy described a rationale for this decision related to an ability to conserve financial resources while at a two-year college. However, Steel et. al. (2010) found that veteran college choice is more nuanced than previously thought and varies by veteran subgroup. In fact, veterans at public four-year and private non-profit institutions reported that degree programs and institutional reputation were major factors in decisions to enroll, while veterans at public two-year and private for-profit institutions tended to enroll for reasons related to proximity, familiarity, and an institutional focus on adult, nontraditional learners. 

Even though most university and college services are periodically evaluated by various accrediting agencies by states and the federal governments, few research studies have been performed in order to monitor substantive progress and effectiveness of providing appropriate programs and services developed  specifically for student veterans, especially at  the community college level. 

One study indicated that the “Persistence Rate” among participants averaged 97%, higher than the 94% reported in 2011 (Lang & Powers, 2011).  It was significantly higher than the 65.7% for traditional students from the first to the second year (ACT, 2008).  

Therefore, this dissertation study will be centered on evaluating the retention and persistence of student veterans enrolled in community colleges and junior colleges in Illinois. 

In an effort to recognize and understand the challenges and experiences contributing to acclimation to college life, this dissertation study will examine the services student veterans utilize when explaining experiences about the community college experience, including persistence and retention. 

As the numbers of student veterans continues to increase over the next few years, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, IHEs will certainly need to understand the challenges and needs of student veterans and assess their ability to deliver the services and programs in a manner which correlates to results, including retention, persistence, and graduation from 2-year programs, or matriculation to 4-year IHEs. 

Despite the increased number of student veterans on campus, there is difficulty in understanding this growing population at colleges across the U.S.  It is very important that campus personnel have a strong understanding of student veterans’ needs and experiences (DiRamio & Jarvis, 2011). 

This study will serve to attempt to close the gap in the literature.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study will be to assess the how students progress in their educational endeavors at the two-year college level.  

A quantitative study will be completed in order to obtain information about student persistence, retention, and ultimately completion of their degrees at two-year junior or community colleges in Illinois, or successful transition or transfer to four-year institutions in Illinois or other states.

In effect, this study will provide data as student veterans persist in their educations at the community college level. 

Data will be presented and discussed about persistence and retention.  The student will present an amalgam of various demographic information, including ages, gender, geography, educational institutions, and degree programs.  

Research Questions

The overarching research question guiding the proposed study is, how do the completion and persistence rates for military or non-traditional students compare to their non-military counterparts in Illinois community colleges?  To glean additional insight the researcher has developed by the following sub-questions:

SQ1: Is there a statistically significant difference between veterans and non-veterans in the success rates of students at a community college in Illinois?

H01: There is not a statistically significant difference between veterans and non-veterans in the success rates of students at a community college in Illinois.

HA1: There is a statistically significant difference between veterans and non-veterans in the success rates of students at a community college in Illinois.

SQ2: Among student veterans at community colleges in Illinois, is GPA a predictor for success? 

H02: GPA is not a predictor for success among student veterans at community colleges in Illinois.

HA2: GPA is a predictor for success among student veterans at community colleges in Illinois.

SQ3: Is there is a correlation between student completion and persistence rates for military or non-traditional students based on the size of community colleges in Illinois? 

H03: There is not a statistically significant difference between success rates of students at community colleges in Illinois based on college size. 

HA3: There is a statistically significant difference between success rates of students at community colleges in Illinois based on college size. 

SQ4: Is there a correlation between persistence and graduation rates for military or non-traditional students at community colleges in Illinois?  

H04: There is not a correlation between persistence and graduation rates for military or non-traditional students at community colleges in Illinois.

HA4:  There is a correlation between persistence and graduation rates for military or non-traditional students at community colleges in Illinois.  

Assumptions

Several assumptions are identified for this study. First, since World War II, veterans expect the federal or state government to fund their educational expenses. Post 9-11 G.I. Bill funds serve as student veterans’ main source of educational funding.  The majority of the students enrolled in Illinois Community Colleges are not presently serving in the military. Finally, the students referred to in the study were either officers or enlisted personnel during their timeframe of military service.

Limitations

The primary limitation is that the data obtained will come from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), Higher Learning Commission, and other organizations which track student veterans’ persistence and retentions at two-year institutions in Illinois. 

The second limitation is that the students who are being surveyed were chosen because of their location in community colleges in Illinois. 

The third limitation is that only veterans who receive Post 9/11 G.I. Bill funding who are enrolled in two-year schools in Illinois will be obtained. 

Delimitations

The researcher has identified several delimitations of this study. The study will focus on student veterans attending community colleges in Illinois. Therefore, the demographics of these students who are surveyed may be similar in nature.  

Since the research is limited to student veterans attending community colleges in Illinois, the results are therefore generalizable to this group.  

These student veterans fall under the auspices of student affairs or financial aid offices. There may be more veterans enrolled in these schools, but they are not receiving Post-911 G.I. Bill benefits and will not be incorporated into this study.  

Definitions

Combat Veteran: This is any individual who served in a combat environment for at least 30 days or more.  Also, a combat veteran is one who served less than 30 days and received a Veterans Affairs connected disability rating or a Purple Heart.  

Community College: Public institution that offers lower division academic and vocational instruction and education to students who by formal accreditation may award associate of arts or sciences as their highest degree (Cohen & Brawer, 2003).  

Enduring Freedom, or Operation Desert Storm). These are veterans who may

have self-identified some form of disability or need for disability accommodation

(whether or not officially recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as

being a service-related disability (Vance, M., & Miller, W., 2009).

Full-Time Student: Students enrolled full-time and degree seeking (12 credit hours or more).  

MOS: Military Occupational Specialty, which is the job that a military serviceperson holds.  

Persistence: Persistence is the act of continuing education despite difficulties or interference. Persistence will includes factors such as retention from the Fall Semester to the Spring Semester.   (Layman, Block, Goldman, Hoolihan, Kent & Murray, 1990).  

Post 9/11 GI Bill:  This is the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, which is also called the 21st Century GI Bill.  This Bill offers service members who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars following the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks support of educational expenses (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2010).  

Student Veterans: A student veteran is any student who is a current or former member of the active duty military, the National Guard, or Reserves regardless of deployment status, combat experience, legal veteran status, or GI Bill use (Vacchi, 2012).

Success: Percentage of credits earned versus pursued. 

Veteran-Friendly Campuses: “The term veteran-friendly refers to marked efforts made by individual campuses to identify and remove barriers to the educational goals of veterans, to create smooth transitions from military life to college life, and to provide information about available benefits and services” (Lokken et al., 2009). 

Wounded Warriors: The term “wounded warriors” refers to students who are enrolled in postsecondary institutions that served active duty in the Middle East wars. 

Importance of the Study

Student veterans have worked to overcome significant challenges and are in a position to effectively go through an adjustment process as they try to take final exams, graduate, and transition into civilian employment. 

Much attention has been paid to improve the experiences and outcomes of student veterans.  The catalyst for this study is that the data at institutional levels remains limited.  Data should be able to track success in completing their education at the two-year level, as well as looking at persistence and retention of students enrolled in llinois Community Colleges.  

In a community college setting, registrars, faculty, advisors and other staff play a strong role in helping student veterans succeed in the classroom. The student experiences need to be coordinated across institutional boundaries, with particular attention paid to sharing data and incorporating it into improved program and service offerings.

Institutions should also provide positive support to student veterans.  Quite frequently, student services react to problems rather than assisting students in developing the habits required for success. By assisting students in creating a plan to achieve their goals, guiding them in assessing likely obstacles, and encouraging them to take ownership of and hold themselves accountable for their learning, institutions can redefine the notion of supporting student success.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

Universities and colleges have revived their enthusiasm for serving student veterans coming back from military service. To encourage these untimely takeoffs, colleges and universities have implemented new strategies and techniques to support their students.  

This literature review will focus on junior or community college support for programs, projects, and services to student veterans as they move from the military service to institutions of higher education.   

Student Retention

The core issue of student retention concerns why students are no longer in college. Why do students leave college? Why do students not continue their education? Historically, the two usual main “suspects” for those conditions are “student problems” or “institutional problems.” Are the reasons students are not in college because of student characteristics (problems) or institutional variables (problems)? As DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell (2008) wrote, “At the intersection of student behaviors and institutional conditions is student engagement” (p. 8). 

Student engagement seeks to empower students to address various student and institutional issues. The literature divides student problems related to low student retention into areas such as social problems, academic problems, financial problems, psychological problems, etc. 

Likewise, intuitional problems related to low student retention have been divided into areas such as insufficient academic support (e.g., tutoring), low student support (e.g., academic advising and career planning), inadequate financial support, etc. (Mroczek & MacDermid, 2013). Administrators and staff know that once a student leaves college his or her chances of returning to it are minimal. It is also known that it is much less expensive to retain students than to constantly recruit and orient new students. Without retention, there is a need to constantly find and gather new students. Student engagement provides promise to address the problem of low student retention.

Student Veterans and Two-Year Colleges

The President’s Commission on Higher Education published the Truman Commission Report of 1946 (Stone, 2014). The Report called for the foundation of a system of open junior colleges.  These two-year colleges would charge practically no tuition to students.  These open colleges were intended to also be social locations. The junior or community college assumed an essential part in the post-war increase of advanced education (Sargent, 2009). 

1944 is a point of interest in the historical backdrop of the relationship of junior (or community) colleges.  In that year, the GI Bill shaped a working class in the U.S. by facilitating social portability through access to advanced education (Sander, 2012, p. 114).  At the same time, it is important to point out that the GI Bill was drafted and supported by southern congressmen, and purposefully intended to ensure separatation among the races (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010). 

The ability of two-year colleges to react to various stakeholder needs makes these institutions the ideal places to include and welcome student veterans. A variety of course and degree opportunities are available at these two-year colleges. Various learning innovations may expand the two-year colleges’ ability to promote student veterans’ personal and professional development.

The Student Veteran and the College Experience

A significant segment of prior research with respect to students with military backgrounds occurred primarily after World War II and the Vietnam War (Rumann, 2010; Radford, 2009). These studies concentrated essentially on subjects, including the effect of administration on veterans’ scholastic accomplishment pre- and post-military service, government aid projects, and student veteran scholarly achievement compared to their non-military peers (Quillen, 2007). Nonetheless, a few later studies investigated the increased participation by the veteran population in higher education.

One study focused on 25 military veterans who enrolled in college as full-time students.  Additionally, 2 studies investigated the encounters of veterans who return to school after military service (Quaye & Harper, 2014; Persky & Oliver, 2010). These studies depicted the veterans’ feelings, including difficulties about leaving military service and a hesitancy by traditional students to recognize the status of veteran at institutions of higher education (Mullins, 2013). 

Passage, Northrup, & Wiley (2009) found that social concerns were strong among veteran members.  These student veterans outlined the challenges of managing relationships and the difficulty of identifying with their more traditional student peers.  A common theme of these studies were portrayals of how military experiences appeared to have provided student veterans with outlooks that resulted in troubles associating with students and, on occasion, lessening class cooperation (Eckstein, 2009). 

Mental and physical well-being were likewise noted as concerns, adding to the challenge of adapting to lives as students (Eckstein, 2009). While a few approaches were adopted to support student veterans, Eckstein (2009) outlined a general subject: the desire of the student veterans that  “…employees would recognize their veteran status and endeavor to comprehend them.” (p. 89). 

Referring to the lack of existing writing on student veterans and taking note of particularly the absence of quantitative exploration, DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell (2008) conducted a study looking at the impacts from non-veteran students (n=199), contrasted with non-military peers (n=181).  The authors discovered that student veterans received less enthusiastic backing from traditional students (non-veterans) in comparison with those reported by non-military students. 

Like most non-traditional students, student veterans are regularly more established than their non-military peers, including the fact that many of them have families. Many student veterans have substantial work responsibilities outside of school, and may be less participatory in class exercises and therefore feel less a part of the college group than more traditional students (Cook & Kim, 2009). 

As retention rates for student veterans have not been completely analyzed yet, initial reviews have demonstrated that nontraditional students are at a higher danger for dropping out of school (Chappell, 2010).

Mroczek & MacDermid (2013) investigated contrasts non-military personnel and veteran student groups in connection to academic results and feeling of having a place in the school group. They discovered that that student veterans had a lower GPA than the non- military students.  The student veterans likewise reported feeling less connected to the school environment than traditional students.  Then again, veteran status was not a noteworthy indicator of this difference (Mroczek & MacDermid, 2013). 

Student veterans reported lower levels of salary earned than their non-military personnel partners. These discoveries demonstrated the need for more specificity of the differences in veteran and non-military personnel students, with the objective of improving student veteran’s success (Stone, 2014). 

These past studies bolstered the need to better comprehend what is occurring with student veterans and the support junior and community college provide to transitioning veterans to institutions of higher education.

Addressing the Needs of Student Veterans at Two-Year Colleges

The development in the quality and numbers of veterans going into higher education due in large part to the Post 9/11 GI Bill has resulted in a stronger rivalry among schools and colleges for recruitment of student veterans (Sargent, 2009). Notwithstanding the Post 9/11 GI Bill, numerous universities and colleges also offer student veterans extra financial assistance to attend their institutions. 

For instance, “The Ohio GI Promise” project guarantees that student veterans will receive the in-state tuition rate. This translates into an average of $13,000 per year for each student veteran, which the state of Ohio anticipates will encourage veterans to consider to return to school and use their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits (Sander, 2012). 

New York State provides a Veterans Tuition Award (VTA) (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010).  This Award is provided to qualified veterans seeking after a degree in an institution of higher education. The VTA can possibly reduce educational costs by 98% (Rumann, 2010). 

While these projects may support New York State four-year colleges or universities,  , it is important to note that a significant number of these schools have developed agreements which encourage students to transfer from a two-year college into a four-year college or university. 

In 2009, Citrus College (California) opened up a veteran’s center that offers student veterans a space where they can network and communicate with other student veterans.  They also have the ability to attend workshops and socialize with other student veterans (Radford, 2009).  Also, Citrus College offers a course that supports student veterans in the transition military to civilian life (Quillen, 2007). The course is called “Boots to Books”, and it teaches student veterans various skills they may experience as they transition from military to civilian life (Quaye & Harper, 2014). 

Two-year colleges are offering introduction projects planned particularly for student veterans.  For example, Danville Area Community College (Illinois) offered a Veteran’s Community Resource Orientation.  This Orientation gave returning veterans pertinent information regarding instruction, and presented ways to enhance their personal and professional lives (Persky & Oliver, 2010). 

Another major initiative that has occurred over the past few years is the formation of Student Veterans of America (SVA) Associations on college campuses. The SVA was established in 2008 in order to link student veterans to resources, and provide support to them (Mullins, 2013). The SVA facilitates programs and networking opportunities for student veterans. The SVA has truly assumed an essential role to help student veterans succeed in institutions of higher education. Interestingly, the number of two-year colleges with a SVA Chapter is dwarfed by four-year establishments with a SVA association by about 4 to 1  ( J. Glastetter, individual correspondence, June 6, 2010). 

In 1972, the Service Individuals Opportunity Colleges (SOC) was formed.  The intent of SOC was to provide services and programs for student veterans and their families (Ford, Northrup, & Wiley, 2009). The SOC works with national associations to enhance support for student veterans. Schools joining forces with SOC acknowledge exchanges of course credits from other SOC institutions that permit the students to ease the entry and transition to higher education.  As a result, the SOC has roughly 1,900 institutional members, a number of which are junior and community colleges (Eckstein, 2009). 

One report published data concerning programs and projects for institutions of higher education, including two-year colleges (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell 2008). Information was obtained from 723 institutions.  The study showed that 57% of the institution sponsor programs and projects for student veterans. Generally speaking, the report communicated that since September 11, 2001, 65% of junior colleges have focused their attention to ensure that the needs of student veterans are being met. 

Student specialists at two-year colleges are expected to tend to the various needs of student veterans – physical, mental, social, and scholastic (Cook & Kim, 2009). Entering a post-secondary institution can be a very stressful experience for students, including student veterans. Numerous two-year colleges have addressed the needs of student veterans through provision of programs and services. On the other hand, significant challenges exist to give better support to this special student population.  One of the difficulties is the absence of data right now accessible with regard to the student veteran attendance at two-year colleges and evaluations of programs and services which focus on the needs of student veterans (Chappell, 2010). 

The Student Veteran Experience

More studies are examining the participation of current student veterans in higher education (Mroczek & MacDermid, 2013). On the other hand, just two studies have concentrated on two-year college students (Stone, 2014). More research needs to be conducted to obtain a clearer understanding of this special student population. 

Student veterans likely experience a sudden change in situations when selecting a school to attend (Sargent, 2009). Conforming to the less organized nature of the school environment can be particularly difficult at first for some student veterans who have become acclimated to the organized daily routine in the military. 

For some student veterans, worries about how they may be viewed by others can complicate transitions and often cause them to hide their veteran status, including on campus (Sander, 2012). 

Student veterans’ voices may not be heard as they arrange to attend college, and these academic and social changes can be adversely impacted. Student veterans likewise may have attitudes which are different from their non-military school student peers. This distinction is further affected by the non-military population who try to identify with the military experiences of student veterans. Non-military students and staff may conduct these encounters in unfeeling ways, which may conceivably have a negative impact on student veterans and their assimilation to the institution (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010), which may make it difficult for student veterans to get needed support in two-year colleges. This challenge can further confuse social and academic transitions.  

Student veterans have a tendency to seek out other veterans to facilitate their transitions because other veterans can identify with their attitudes (Rumann, 2010).  To be sure, student veterans welcome chances to meet other veterans which results in a less intimidating school environment and which will ease their transition into school. 

Staff also assume a major role to determine how student veterans adapt to an academic environment. Student veterans reported in a study that employees were supportive, particularly those employees who had an attachment to the military themselves, including employee’s relatives (Radford, 2009). At the same time, some staff may not be exactly supportive and in a few situations critical in light of antiwar remarks made in the classroom (Quillen, 2007).   As a consequence of these differences, student veterans may feel underestimated by their peers as well (Persky & Oliver, 2010). 

Student veterans may encounter the extra burden of dealing with bureaucracies when trying to assemble data identified with receipt of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. 

Passage, Northrup, & Wiley (2009) discovered a significant portion of the members in the study recognized the designated student veteran’s official as the essential person they relied upon for support in enrolling into school (Eckstein, 2009). Numerous institutions strive to be “veteran friendly.”  However, in the event that student veterans keep on encountering institutional challenges, they will feel as if they do not make a difference in attending institutions of higher education.

Institutional Structure and Strategies

In addition to institutional structure, supportive campus peers can positively promote mor positive transitions for student veterans (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell 2008). Age differences can create social distance, and veterans may feel that they do not fit in (Cook & Kim, 2009). Thus, opportunities to engage with other veterans are important in that they can provide students with access to those who understand their experiences (Chappell, 2010). This can occur through student veteran’s organizations (SVOs), which have the potential to provide support in a judgment-free zones (Mroczek & MacDermid, 2013).  

“Strategies” speak to abilities to manage transitions through one’s own behaviors (Stone, 2014). There are various types of coping responses, including modifying the situation; controlling the meaning of the problem; and managing stress after the transition. Individuals can implement four different coping methods as they engage in these responses: 1) information seeking; 2) direct action; 3) inhibition of action; and 4) intrapsychic behavior (Sargent, 2009). While these strategies are useful in isolation, it is important for individuals to be flexible to implement multiple strategies (Sander, 2012). 

The assistance institutions offer can help veterans transition to campus, which facilitates individuals’ abilities to modify the situation, control the meaning of the problem, and manage stress. Student veterans often face information barriers distinct from other student populations (Sander, 2012). This is reinforced by an Executive Order (Executive Order No. 13,607, 2012) issued by President Obama on April 27, 2012, which communicates that information helps veterans make more informed decisions about where to take their benefits, prevents them from entering schools that only want their money, and helps them navigate available support services. Thus, the provision of accessible and accurate information is particularly important. 

Several strategies can be implemented to promote the dissemination of resources and information. Researchers recommend that institutions create veterans’ offices, which can be helpful to students as they navigate through campus departments such as registration and financial aid when they return to campus (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010).

 The American Council of Education recommends creating specific points of contact for veterans to help them navigate administrative processes and assisting them through obstacles that might otherwise prevent degree completion. Appointing an institutional point person to help with the reintegration process is important (Rumann, 2010). Also, making resources manageable for returning veterans requires collaboration between important campus offices and resources (Radford, 2009) 

Burnett and Segoria suggest intra-institutional collaboration through committees, student groups, trainings for faculty and staff, and mentoring programs are potential ways to support veterans, providing information and resources. They also note that community and system-wide collaboration through state level partnerships and working with Veterans Affairs and veterans’ healthcare facilities can improve transitions for student veterans.

Creating an Effective Learning Environment for Student Veterans

Student veterans are usually able to make adjustments and overcome challenges due to a strong emotional framework. What puts student veterans in a difficult position is often the absence to explore the framework and organization of a school campus (Quillen, 2007). While veterans are accustomed to being the center of attention in filling positions, they may not be in a comparable position in an institution of higher education. This may representative a significant change for student veterans, especially when they first arrive at the institution.  A basic point to consider with student veterans is to try to work with student veterans at their level while trying to include them in the fabric of the institution (Quillen, 2007). 

The consideration of the campus environment is important; however, most veterans have encountered situations that are categorized as genuinely antagonistic, so seeking friendships may not be as important to veterans. It is more essential to recognize and deal with potential deterrents to student achievement.  

Campus Services for Veterans

Bonar and Domenici (2011) examined the current writings about student veterans, which include: (1) how to enhance admissions for veterans with challenges who return to school; (2) how the arrangement cycle influences military students; and (3) how campus administration can assist these student veterans. 

In an investigation of 25 college students who served in overeas wars over the past 10 years, Quaye & Harper (2014) highlighted the significance of utilizing a comprehensive way to work with student veterans. Specifically, they outlined the requirement for colleges to use coaches and mentors, and they required orientations for student veterans (Persky & Oliver, 2010). 

Past exploration has centered on the particular academic concerns student veterans’ experience, including the transition from an organized military life to a non-structured school climate and including academic studies (Mullins, 2013). This population battles with adaption to campus life and an absence of support with colleges for veterans (Ford, Northrup & Wiley, 2009), and instability regarding the ability to make military experiences to qualify for academic credit (Eckstein, 2009). 

In the 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), specialists explained that student veterans were not as concerned with scholarly exercises determined that institutions of higher education were not very supportive of the veterans’ needs. 

A study by the American Council on Education which involved 723 organizations found that more than 65% of universities and colleges focused on new benefits toward student veterans after the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was implemented (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell 2008). More than 57% of these foundations expressed that they supported projects and programs of student veterans (Cook & Kim, 2009). However, less than a large portion of the schools studied with military and/or veterans’ projects offered open doors for jobs to the student veterans’ population (Chappell, 2010). Numerous analysts have addressed whether school and college administrators and staff have effectively planned to address the needs of the student veteran population in light of the fact that they have more diversity than traditional students (Mroczek & MacDermid, 2013). 

According to Stone (2014), numerous students leave school for military service prior to finishing their college degrees. These students will re-enter the college setting with the expectation of completing their degrees (Sargent, 2009). This institutions will experience difficulties with the return of these students to a college setting, and need to help them to adapt to their surroundings (Sander, 2012). 

How student veterans and their institutions address these difficulties may impact their success in higher education. Although past exploration has highlighted the emotional wellness concerns of this transitioning population notwithstanding the difficulties they experience after arriving on campus, there is limited research on how these moves impact student veterans’ choices on institutions of higher education.  

Rumann & Hamrick (2010) noted that veterans who re-enter society after military service experience challenges as far as professional characters. In communicating about their future professional, living, and family goals, student veterans were better set to conceptualize their arrangements and set objectives for the future (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010). 

Theoretical Framework

This study was developed through a formative system. This study looked at student veterans’ transitions from military to academic life. One noteworthy hypothetical structure that can better assist student veterans in making profession-related decisions is vocation development hypothesis (Radford, 2009). This hypothetical system conceptualizes human improvement through logical and social points of view (Quillen, 2007). Furthermore, the hypothesis takes a relevant and social viewpoint on social adjustment (Savickas, 2005). Scientists using profession development hypothesis are occupied with adapting all the more about how people pick and utilization work (Quaye & Harper, 2014). Overall, the hypothesis concentrates on how people manufacture their professions by putting importance in their work and their decisions (Persky & Oliver, 2010). Quickly, inside this hypothetical system, there are three segments: (1) life topics; (2) professional identities; and (3) profession flexibility (Mullins, 2013). 

Life subjects concentrate on the why part of professional conduct, analyzing how one’s occupation can give a setting to human advancement (Eckstein, 2009). 

Professional identities concentrate on one’s profession related capacities, values, and needs, which can be impacted by different relevant elements (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell, 2008). 

Profession versatility analyzes five key points that are connected with adjustment, which include introduction, investigation, foundation, administration, and withdrawal (DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell 2008). An individual is considered to be versatile when he or she is concerned about the future, exhibits individual control over the future, and expands one’s trust in making profession-related choices (Cook & Kim, 2009). 

These tasks are critical in one’s vocation improvement, particularly as students start to consider their professional prospects. This hypothesis can support student veterans who are in comparable formative stages as other non-traditional students. Specifically, student veterans may experience a few comparative difficulties as non-veterans, such as transition difficulties, profession-related challenges, and transitional concerns. 

Using the Social Cognitive Career Theory structure, Gravley (2012) analyzed the move military veterans made when deciding to go to school and seeking other occupations.  Research showed that student veterans whose military vocations adjusted to their future profession arrangements showed essentially greater amounts of vocation choice (Gravley, 2012).

In spite of the fact that exploration is starting to address the exceptional needs of this population, more research is expected to examine the move’s impact on student veterans’ professional advancement.  There has been an increased emphasis on the development of vocation flexibility. Vocation flexibility, as characterized by Savickas (1997, p. 254), spotlights on ”the status to adapt to the anticipated undertakings of planning for and taking an interest in the work part and with the erratic modification” which is provoked by changes in work. Vocational versatility is key for students as it helps them in exploring the universe of work and profession choice making methodology (Duffy, 2010). 

Past examination on profession versatility has concentrated on the legitimacy of the Career Adapt-Abilities Scale. Chappell (2010) analyzed German secondary school students, and showed that versatility was discovered to be related with an inward locus of control. Past examination likewise proposed that people who have control over their lives may be more ready to adjust to the changing universe of work (Mroczek & MacDermid, 2013).

In spite of the fact that this is a moderately new development, there is restricted research on its pertinence to student veterans. By concentrating on vocation flexibility, guides can help student veterans with building up an availability to adapt to an evolving situation. 

There are two primary move hypotheses that have been utilized as a part of the exploration of veterans coming back to school. A few studies have utilized Nancy Schlossberg’s grown-up move hypothesis (1984) as a system for their exploration on student veterans (Stone, 2014). Different analysts have utilized diverse alteration speculations as a structure for their exploration on student veterans (American Council on Education, 2008; Branker, 2009; DOD, 2010). 

Both methodologies are significant and provide different points of view on veterans’ encounters as they return to school. Taking into account Schlossberg’s hypothesis’ meaning of a move – “any occasion or nonevent that outcomes in changed connections, schedules, suspicions, and parts” – it is suitable to utilize this hypothesis to investigate the encounters of student veterans. A man’s capacity to manage and travel through a move is straightforwardly identified with the degree of the change and the impacts of one or a greater amount of Schlossberg’s adapting assets – circumstance, self, backing, and procedures (Anderson, Goodman, & Schlossberg, 2012, p. 61). 

Rumann (2010) used Schlossberg’s hypothesis to deal with encounters of student veterans enrolling at two junior colleges in the Midwest. In instituting a subjective system, Rumann talked with six student veterans who re-enlisted and served within the past eight years. The veterans were National Guard or Reserve members, and were of different genders and ages. 

Livingston (2009) additionally utilized Schlossberg’s hypothesis of grown-up moves to plan his inquiries when talking with student veterans about their re-enlistment encounters at a four-year area college in the southeastern U.S.  He discovered their encounters working with college staff that served student veterans.  These five classifications rose up out of Livingston’s (2009) work. 

The primary topic, military impact, highlights the impacts of military service on the student veteran’s life.  A student veteran adapt to respond to normal assignments as though he or she were still in the military. Scholarly achievement and trouble identifying with colleagues additionally goes hand in hand with this topic. 

The second topic, intangibility, demonstrates how student veterans are more averse to unveil their past and less motivated to participate in campus-based exercises. This topic additionally shows how a student veteran avoids getting needed aid when working on issues on or off campus. Pride in their military service keeps the student veterans separated from the campus. 

Support is the third subject that came up in Livingston’s exploration. It includes both social and scholarly support that student veterans need. In his study, Livingston found that student veterans looked for social structures more than than academic ones. Social backing originated from individual veterans, family, job, and student associations. Pride contrarily influenced a student veteran’s readiness to access support services. 

The fourth topic, grounds society, incorporates occasions that advance veteran mindfulness. It includes the veterans’ view of employees’ accommodation and grounds group individuals’ impression of veterans. When all is said in done, employees were seen as supportive and compassionate, while students and staff were seen as unhelpful.

 Livingston’s fifth and last subject, exploring re-enlistment, outlines the veteran’s adjustment from military to academic life and monetary issues involved. Livingston described this subject as an exceptionally individual experience. In particular, the theme of cultural assimilation rises a few times in the writing about veteran moves (ACE, 2009; Branker, 2009; DOD, 2010). 

Sander (2012), examines cultural diversity and assimilation. The procedure of re-adjusting to a home culture after a spell abroad can be troublesome. Cultural assimilation techniques include encounters that will fluctuate from individual to individual. A few contentions rise because of changes that happened at home while the individual was away, changes that frequently conjure an optional methodology called deculturation (p. 359). Deculturation, or the procedure of unlearning propensities and practices obtained beforehand, is related to cultural assimilation.  Hypothetically, the methodology finishes up when the individual achieves “the most noteworthy level of adjustment” (p. 360). 

Completing the Mission II

A Study of Veterans Students’ Progress toward Degree Attainment in the

 Post-9/11 Era

Preface

Legislation called Veterans Educational Assistance Act or commonly known as Post-9/11 GI Bill was passed by the United States Congress dated 30th June of 2008, which created quite a stir in changing the arena of college learners such as veterans and service members from the era of post-9/11. Having been recognized as the best legal inclusion in the field of education of military after a long gap from the GI Bill or Service Member Readjustment Act (1944), it accelerated the admission of approximately 1 million students from the military into the institutions for higher education all over the country in four years. The enactment of this legislation also gave the exposure of various career options to the learners of first-generation by offering immense opportunities thru higher education.

This program partly reveals the truth as it brought many consequences as well such as the unstable economy of the time of returning those veterans being separated from military service. The market was overflowed by the young veterans (18-20 years) who were added to 25% unemployed population. The rising desire for higher education among veterans reflected the scenario of the era of Post-World War II. If counted from the time middle of 2009, the hike of enrollment was 500% on college campuses. It will be increasing as predicted more 1 million separations in five years. 

However, cognizance was noticed among the universities and colleges as they are planning strategies to accommodate such large numbers of soldiers as students for attaining higher education everywhere in the country. The estimation for this entitlement has been $36 billion and is more focused on those people who are opting for it as seen in ‘Principles of Excellence’ which used institutions as watchdog to monitor the expenses. (for details of ‘Principles of Excellence’ refer to Appendix A).

Whether is it a successful method of earning a degree? What will be the comparison between traditional student fraternity and them? What is the role of campuses for meeting their requirements? These study questions will be discussed in the due course with the data gathered from 23 four-year campuses of District of Columbia along with other 20 states.

Degree attainment progression by the veterans is assessed by the joint collaboration of Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) and Operation College Promise (OCP). The target criteria for the institutions were having either of the training for Certificate for Veteran’s Service Providers (CVSP), signature training by OCP and partnership with PTF. A pilot study participated by manifold of four-year institutions inculcates the rate of achievements at the institutions on campus services for veterans (such as military dependents and Reserve/Guard/Active military) and the reason for maximum new students is their dropping out from degrees at very early age. Thus, the following evaluation will be premature. Their alternative reviewing formula utilizes campus leadership input from 200 students. 

The traditional cohorts are indicated by 4 primary categories which are semester wise retention, implementing campus services, GPA and the conflict between credits pursued and credits earned. The failures in higher education of the veterans being a common rhetoric was broken by the pilot study. A fundamental support service is elevating the veterans to be accomplished (Lang and Powers, 2011).

In the study, to catch the commonality of all programs by the participating campuses, four fundamental indices are encompassed and Framework for Veterans’ Success (The OCP Field Guide 2011) of OCP were prepared the basic framework for those programs. Initiation of Graduation Probability Indices (GPI) project was meant for assessing the progression of the veterans in attaining degree on the basis of the continuing mechanism. Its aim, supported by Got Your 6 (GY6) was not to draw a universal conclusion rather demonstrate the progression track of a sample population of veterans.

Methodology

In the research, 741 students were selected from 23 voluntarily and four year participating campuses of which 19 institutions were public and together they represented the District of Columbia and 20 states.

Initially, the institutions were asked to pick 50 students for each campus to develop ‘Student Identifier List’ (SIL) having the criteria of being freshmen or sophomores, enrolled for full-time degree course and current users of GI Bills and veterans as well. The average number of student was 40 and cannot be exceeded however, it may differ on the basis of the sample size.

Institutions lacking of first criterion were adjusted with including transferred students. 45% of the sample size was sophomores or freshmen and altogether they were measured in the scale of 6 year graduation rate of traditional students. Points for data collection in GPI specified by SIL consisted of Success rate based on the GPA credits of the students in pursued degree and persistence rate based on the retention rate between fall semester and spring semester, echoing 2011 pilot. Progression of degree attainment was evaluated in terms of credit percentage of the students in pursued degree. Here, the percentage was calculated as students with earned credits in pursued degree unlike the previous limited method of percentage on students with earning credits in degree attainment. Removal of on-campus services from GPI methodology included those support services to picture commonality with their prominence.

Participating institutions meeting the criteria are assisted by OCP to collect completion rates and retention in higher education. The data are contemporary to the time of assessment of veterans in progression of degree attainment applying Post-9/11 GI Bill. It surely cannot represent all institutions for higher education but can serve as a model to measure the purpose. 

Students Veterans Demographic

Student Veterans Surveyed (2011-2012 Academic year)

In the selected sample size for data collection, 146 members were summed up from 14.6%, 19.5% and 15.5% from Active Duty, Reserves and National Guard members respectively (StatisticBrain.com 2012). The veteran population was filled up crossing half of it in two schools by female veterans. Most of the veterans already had enough credits sufficing the status of sophomores awarded by military and priori academic experience. The number of having no such credits is very few. Business, Criminal Justice, History, Psychology, Engineering and Biology were the mostly opted majors by the veterans.

Findings

High GPA (inculcated as more or as a 3.0) retention is correlated quite obviously with progression in degree attainment. Study at DePaul revealed that the highest retention rate among the traditional students is 85.6% and students having GPA of 3.0 or more belong to this set making GPA and retention rate directly proportional to each other. The highest graduation rate 77.4% also belonged to the same set and the least rate is 13.3% with less than 2.0 GPA (DePaul 2011). A study at Baylor University (2007) had echoed similar statistics. Moreover, ‘Success’ and ‘Persistence’ were also correlated by GPA. Average 2.98 GPA was found in a mode of 4.0 among the first year students which was lower than previous 3.04 from 2011 report (Lang & Powers 2011), still indicating positive progression in terms of ‘Persistence’ for attaining degree.

Success rate: Percentage of Credits Earned vs. Pursued

The requirements for completing degree in undergraduate program of most of the colleges are credit hours between 120 to 130 and approximately 15 credits average semester load. In this consideration, the comparison between traditional and veteran students regarding credits earned and pursued uses the same critical data as in to assess the comparison of success between the two sets of students.

Veterans as learners of higher education are categorized as ‘non-traditional’. There some groups of students which are not usually regarded by the research norms such as mixed enrollments, students changing their type of enrollment from part-time to full-time or the other way round, nontraditional age and part-time (Shapiro, et al. 2012, p.49). Students older than 24 years are defined as adult learners and more than 80% of them falls into this category. Inclusion of nontraditional students has increased the completion rate in the US colleges from 42% to 54% in a recent report by National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ (Shapiro, et al. 2012, p.49). Moreover, leaving the previous reports behind, full-time students with 75% and more usually seem to take six years to finish off college (Shapiro, et al. 2012). The achievement rate of conventional students seems to increase the accumulation of data of the veterans in this learning. The realistic status of the veterans compared to expectation is also to be evaluated considering the graduating time. “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2012” has reported that First year students incoming with 84.3% hope to be graduated within four years with the realistic percentage of half of it (HERI, 2012).

In terms of ‘success’ following the GPI definition, the traditional students are either equaled or fall short in comparison to the veteran non-traditional students. The pursued number of students bears the average credit of 71% in Fall 2010- Spring 2011 as stated in the last report (Lang & Powers, 2011). The ‘success rate’ is found to be 90.5% in the figures of that cohort depending on the assessment of earned credit percentage of those pursued students in Fall 2011- Spring 2012. 28 credit hours are transferred averagely including 24.5 credits in a year by those nontraditional students. Supposing the continuation of the same line of progress, those students may attain the degree within the five years or within four years with the potential addition of transfer credits. This success rate excludes the statistics of veterans who are usually allowed with more time considering family responsibilities and employment.

Persistence Rates

Higher education concerns ‘persistence’ majorly as institutions are trying hard to decrease the rate of ‘stop outs’ and ‘drop outs’ by adapting plausible measures. Contextualizing a many factors, the concerned service providers for veterans give it paramount of importance. The education benefits are limited with time by the GI bill of Post-9/11 to make study of a degree plan critically efficient and a military student may not return if discouraged in college.

Vet Success on Campus (VSOC) program by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the institutions is conducted to ensure the unfazed conversion of military profession into campus life of the civilians. Relationships with the higher educational institutions is focused to be reinforced for assisting the veterans with opportunities and success by various transition services during the process of transition on the veteran population into college life. Started as a pilot at South Florida University in 2009, VSOC has been adapted by 32 campuses in the nation. ‘Student.gov’ is another initiative by the US government and the students including their families are encompassed in its design. The mission of this website inculcates of providing all resources and information necessitated by the users at one location covering the government overall.

On the other hand, ‘mappingyourfuture.org’ is a non-profitable site for supporting veteran programs. It is a collaborative public-service and national organization serving the schools, families and students with information regarding financial literacy, college, financial aid and career.

Academically, researches are going on for identifying the basic requirements of veterans and the strategy of accommodating them all as nontraditional students. A study called “Elements of a Veteran Friendly Campus: Perceptions by Student Veterans, Faculty and Staff” by South Florida University is working on to find out the boundaries of transition from military to attending campus by the veterans. With the help of this data services and programs can be developed by USF so that the veterans can be reintegrated to attending USF utilizing this aid. Study on the evolving nature of the requirements of the veterans at Radford University by the Student Veteran Research Team of Radford University and “Behavioral Health Screening for Student Veterans” at USF are some examples of more studies. Veterans and their service providers are supported by various common resources in ‘Field guide’ of OCP.

In this study, the average ‘persistent rate’ is 97% among the participants increased by 3% than the previous report of 2011 (Lang & Powers, 2011) and compared to traditional students, that is 65.7% from first to second year, the difference is significant (ACT, 2008). Numerous influencing factors are responsible for this persistent rate and its continuing rise and the significant one is binding the veterans in schools with the re-emphasizing measures by the academic, nonprofit, governmental and institutions. Moreover, post secondary education in a few cases has become the byproduct of a vulnerable economy. Persistence of veterans in college also ensures accomplishment in civilian life with helpful transitional mechanism.

As per the report of “From Soldier to Student II” (ACE) that the veterans and military face issues mostly related to finance which obstructs their degree attainment and social acculturation (McBain, et al. 2012). Therefore matching a benchmark and focusing on services and programs targets of the veteran students are highly prioritized. (Appendix B is referred for details of ACE report).

Most Prevalent Support Service on Campus

The administration of campus is majorly responsible for identifying the most effective supports and aids assisting the transition of military veteran students and they should consider the demographics and uniqueness of campus to develop any kind of mechanism. The service support include a coordinator for managing the registration and consultation of veteran students and founding a club operated by veterans students for the benefits of entire student body as it may be really helpful through activities to  bridge the gap between civilian and military. 

Military students are more intrigued by Career Counseling, Evaluation and Receipt of Credit for Military Training, Student Veteran Website/Portal and Yellow Ribbon/In-Service State Tuition programs for degree attainment. Flexibility is focused with extra stress on transfer credit. In-State Tuition policies or Yellow Ribbon Agreements is making higher education affordable for the veterans. Orientation and special ceremonies of veterans are counseled by experts in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury (PTSD/TBI).

Scope of Improvement

Transition assistance is provided by 37% of total postsecondary institutions. Social acculturation is prioritized by only 55% of the institutions mostly without any applicable supports (McBain, et al. 2012). Incongruity is a great issue for the veteran students at campus in comparison to their former military life. From Soldier to Student II survey states that both military students and their faculty and staffs are trained at only 47% of the universities and colleges (McBain, et al. 2012, pp. 47-48). Acceleration relating the development process of services and programs for military students is found in only 28% of the campuses (McBain, et al. 2012, p.48). Attaining degree would be expedited with any kind of initiatives like this.

Veteran Responses

Opinions are sought by OCP via a survey online from the veterans for evaluating some supportive services. This more or less echoed the hopeful assertion regarding the contribution of campuses in providing supportive services aforementioned services and programs. Higher rates of retention of the veterans at the campuses are suggested by their maximum stress upon having a coordinator at the veteran’s office. This followed by the emergence of Student Veteran’s Organization (SVO) and a center for veterans. The former is more for the traditional students to adapt the campus with veterans and the organization is mostly served by the national Student veteran Association aiming at a cordial college experience. The activities of this organization include fundraising events, collaborative ventures with other similar organizations etc. For example, Student Veterans of America (SVA) helps the veterans by a feeling of community at the time of that critical transition.

This survey suggests to have an on-campus veteran center where the veteran students can interact with each other and simultaneously learn the benefits from programs meant for them.

Additional Services veterans would like to see (Source: OCP Survey, August 2013)

  • Each veteran should be allowed to register for seniority simultaneously. It can be known as priority registration.
  • Both administration and organizations for student veterans should be highly collaborative.
  • Graduating veterans should be provided with opportunity of starting careers.
  • They should be provided with additional training specifically for enabling them to communicate with external communities besides veteran office.
  • A yearly reunion or gate-together involving each head of the departments.
  • New students should be provided with separate orientation.

Conclusion

Assessing the effectiveness of Post 9/11 GI Bill became highly debatable for being expensive worth $36 billion. Thus the continuity of such financial support necessitates minute analysis with broad data spectrum. Previous researches gave rise to some misunderstanding regarding degree attainment by veterans involving several types of institutions such as profitable vs. non-profitable, private vs. public or 4 year vs. 2 year and concluding them without going deeper. Mentioning about the assistance by other institutions in data collection to this population is important as it is not universal. There is no such direct correlation between the study and the programs and services for veterans but an implicit sense of reintegration is conveyed through the data analysis. Attaining degree on time is focused in the polls conducted for success rate, persistence rate and GPA of the students. In the time frame of six years they succeed to fetch sufficient credits either equating their traditional peers or surpassing them.

The survey of campus profile was voluntarily attended by 500,000 students and 4% or 20,000 of them fell into the category of military veteran students. Notably, veterans such as Reservationists and Guards are more fit into the recently changed criteria of veterans. The average costs for outside states and in-state students are $24,176 and $14,084 respectively. The costs exceeding the border of maximum tuition as per VA ($18,077 at the time of print) is mitigated by the institutions with either of the provisions of in-state tuition policies or Yellow Ribbon.

The participated institutions have given highest priority to these veteran students and accordingly identified the basic requirements to enhance their efficiency. Administration incorporates various policies taking especially only them into consideration in the campuses. The effectiveness as per the research can be achieved by the institutions with systematic and practical financial support. Normally, the support services seem to be an extension of measures meant for traditional students but the degree of discipline, determination and motivation of those veteran students should always be kept in mind.

Summary

The literature demonstrates that junior and community colleges are appropriately situated to recruit and select student veterans. These institutions are especially designed for serving a non-traditional student population, which may make them a different option for student veterans who are attempting to transition to the non-military world after military service (Sargent, 2009). Numerous institutions are executing activities to increase this student population, including coursese and programs geared to student veterans.  This does not naturally mean these institutions are completely prepared to provide support to student veterans. Student veterans who attend institutions of higher education often feel they are on the edges of the larger student group (Sander, 2012). They have a tendency to feel unique in relation to the vast majority of traditional students on campus and often face challenges as they move from the military to institutions of higher education. 

Without suitable support, student veterans will probably be detached from their non-military student peers and campus staff.  Thus, they frequently do not have a voice, even though they have much to offer the larger campus population. It is important that two-year colleges make responsible moves to support student veterans through projects, programs, and services. 

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

Introduction

The third chapter of the dissertation will be of research methodology, which is an essentially important chapter in a dissertation. Research methodology, in simpler words, provides the reader with an understanding of ways and techniques through which the researcher collected, interpreted, and analyzed the obtained data from participants. Moreover, this chapter provides an overall understanding of the selected research design and data collection methods, followed by research instruments. 

Following is a brief description of the research methodology chapter.

The research will be using methodologies that will comprise on quantitative data collection method. The research will be using both the secondary and the primary sources of data. The quantitative research approach will be used and the questionnaire will be used as a tool to survey and gather the data. Quantitative research is characterized by an approach that aims to describe and analyze the culture and behavior of humans and their groups from the perspective of those studied. 

The most anticipated limitation that the research might face would be the time factor and the access to larger sample of the population, political or other issues of the target market.  With the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, more than 2 million military men and women will be eligible to enroll in colleges after serving in the U.S. military (Cook & Kim, 2009). 

Many of these military personnel, soon to be called “veterans,” have endured serious and life-changing physical, emotional, and social scars that they will carry with them into civilian life (Rand Center for Military Health and Policy Research, 2008). These returning Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) military veterans, whose average age is 27.2 years (National Research Council, 2010), will be seeking job training and education to obtain the necessary skills to continue their lives as contributing members of society.  Many of these veterans will be enrolling in Illinois community colleges. 

In 2009, for example, more than 26,600 veterans utilized education benefits at a Illinois community college. At the federal level and in the State of Illinois, legislation has enhanced the benefits for veterans who served after the events of September 11, 2001. These benefits are assisting returning military personnel, particularly OEF and OIF veterans, with financial and educational advantages – the effect of which is expected to bring thousands of veterans back into college classrooms. According to the U.S. Department of Education (2009, April), 90% of enlisted personnel plan to enroll in colleges when they complete their military service. 

Illinois community colleges anticipate enrolling a large percentage of those student veterans returning for postsecondary instruction. More than half of Illinois veterans receiving GI educational benefits attend a community college.

Research Design

The first part of the study includes a comprehensive review of the programs and services provided by the participating two-year colleges. These programs and services will serve as the foundation of the study, which will evaluate whether a program such as this is leading to educational success. This part of the study provides an institutional context regarding establishment of the program and will outline the operational plan for the veterans’ services. 

Research Philosophy – Interpretivism

Research philosophy is most commonly defined as a strategy through which the researcher collects and analyzes the information in unique and predefined manner. In general, there are three research philosophies. This means that the researcher selected the research philosophy according to the nature and design of the research. Since case study methodology was preferred by the researcher, it was most feasible to use interpretivism for the research study. In this research philosophy, the researcher believes that there are several realities, which can be identified in multiple ways. More importantly, the use of this philosophy allowed the researcher to carefully examine personal research system and flexibility, rather than relying upon patterns and trends.

Research Approach

After selecting the most feasible research philosophy, the researcher will select appropriate research approach to ensure the validity and reliability of the study. For the very reason, the researcher will use a deductive approach. In this research approach, the researcher will move from general knowledge to specific and precise information. This implies that this research will initiate with extensive range of knowledge and information, which will then be used to reach a particular research outcome. This is the most appropriate research approach through which the researcher can either accept or reject the research hypotheses. Since deductive approach depends upon the primary assumption of being accurate, the researcher can use this as an advantage during the completion of research study. 

Research Strategy

The research will use secondary source materials, such as journals. The research method used will be interview questionnaires to collect primary data because Primary data has its own advantages as the researcher attempts to find the information directly. This type of research is clearer as the researcher studies the available information and compare with his collected data. It gives the researcher an edge to control their findings unlike the one in secondary research. Although primary data is more time consuming but it is effective and contributes significantly in research reliability and validity. 

Site and Program Selection

The colleges selected for this study are from Illinois community colleges. For example, one of the institutions has an enrollment of approximately 8,500 students and is located in Illinois. The college is one of two separately accredited institutions within the same district, and serves three principal cities and several unincorporated communities within its service area. The college provides university transfer classes, retraining classes for those in need of employment or career advancement, a first-time educational opportunity for many adults, and career and technical training for those entering the technical and para-professional work force. 

The Illinois Community Colleges operate under the governance of the State Chancellor, the State Board of Governors appointed by the Governor, and local districts with their own locally elected governing boards. The Illinois Community College’s System Office and Board of Governors oversee the distribution of funds apportioned by the State Legislature for use by the Community Colleges. Illinois Community Colleges are organized into 72 community college districts. Each college within a district has a president or chancellor/superintendent, and each district has its own elected board of trustees, which apportions funds and governs the colleges within its district. 

By law, the Illinois Community Colleges shall admit any person who is a high school graduate or equivalent thereof, or who is eighteen years of age or older, and who can benefit from the instruction offered.  Primary missions of the colleges are to offer academic and career-technical education at the lower division level. Another primary mission is to advance Illinois economic growth and global competitiveness through education, training, and services that contribute to continuous workforce improvement. Essential and important functions of the colleges include: basic skills instruction and, in conjunction with the school districts, instruction in English as a Second Language, adult non-credit instruction, and support services that help students succeed at the postsecondary level. The program at this institution was selected for several reasons. Data and participants were readily available to the researcher because of the previous association the author has with the college. The program itself began more than seven years ago and is now considered among the model programs for veterans’ services within the Illinois Community College system (B. Petersen, personal communication, 2012).

Participant Selection

A student veteran population from Illinois Community Colleges attending the participating colleges will be evaluated using data from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and selected community or junior colleges in Illinois. The student veterans are students who served or are still serving in OEF and OIF operations in the military. The information of these student veterans will be purposefully selected with consideration of age, gender, ethnicity, and representation from the various branches of the military. 

According to the National Research Council (2010), 89% of military personnel in the OEF/OIF conflicts were male; 11% were female. Two-thirds of the soldiers were white; 18.5% were African-American, and 11.7% were Hispanic. Consideration of the selection of the interviewees was intended to be consistent with these ratios. In addition, because the participating college considers its three-day orientation program to be such a critical component of its service to veterans, at least two individuals to be are expected to be among those who had participated in the orientation. The interviews and discussions with the student veterans are intended to provide substantive feedback, which would lead to questions that could be posed to a broader group of student veterans. These questions should elicit opinions and comments about programs and services provided by the college, and whether improvements are needed in those areas. The survey was intended to include approximately 20 questions; it will be administered to all enrolled, self-identified military veterans at the college. The survey questions are included in the appendix.

Data Collection

The researcher will collect secondary data for the research study. This implies that both of the data collection methods will be used to ensure the validity and reliability of the research. Secondary data for the research study will be collected through peer-reviewed journal articles and scholarly journals.  Secondary data will be collected through the use of past publications available over the internet and libraries. The Internet is a hub of published journal articles and information; therefore the relevant data will be collected for the review of literature for the research study. The information will be readily and easily available online, where the researcher will have access to almost all data relevant to the topic and field of the study. The foremost advantage of using the secondary data sources will be time and costs associated with conducting the research.

 As a case study, the descriptive analysis is a key component of this research. Stake (1995) suggests that case studies may describe and understand a particular issue, thereby providing an interpretive approach with a strong qualitative emphasis. Examining the operational plan of the program and services for student veterans at this college is useful to understanding its “whys” and “hows,” and a clear delineation will become the framework of the interviews and survey instrument. Lincoln and Guba (1985) are also advocates of case studies and their evaluative approach. They suggest that, by providing a complete evaluation of a program, one can garner total understanding of the activities as well as the program’s value within the context it operates. Case studies have these critical features: focus on a specific issue or program; in-depth understanding of a program; and data is typically collected in a variety of ways including observations, interviews, and the study of existing documentation. Phenomenological research emphasizes how individuals react to or are affected by a particular experience or phenomenon from their own unique perspectives (Merriam, 2002). 

Community colleges are more likely than traditional colleges to inculcate particular norms and values in their employees for a couple of reasons. First, the charter school movement emerged as a means of introducing market-like competition into education, so charter schools often mimic the behaviors of for-profit firms seeking to fill a market niche (for an overview, see Buckley & Schneider, 2007). Community colleges are typically created in reaction to a perceived weakness in existing traditional public schools, with some focusing on an innovative alternative teaching philosophy (e.g., KIPP) and others focusing on the needs of a segment of the target population (e.g., bilingual students, students interested in fine arts). Like for-profit firms, charter schools are more likely to succeed in the market if they create a strong organizational culture that reinforces the organization’s mission (Holyoke et al., 2007). A charter school’s survival is premised on its ability to fill a market need, and this is likely to motivate employees to rally around a set of guiding principles and goals. Second, charter schools often attract teachers and administrators with norms and values that are similar to those of existing employees. As discussed by Deal and Hentschke (p. 17), “By virtue of thematic focus, charter schools are able to attract like-minded parents, students, teachers, and administrators, and perforce can form a more socially cohesive community.” School officials may also work to find teachers that fit closely with the objectives of a particular school (Podgursky & Ballou, 2001). For example, charter schools tend to be founded by entrepreneurs with very specific educational philosophies and who are very likely to hire others with the same values (Deal & Hentschke, 2004; Podgursky & Ballou, 2001).

 In general, there exists a strong emphasis on charter schools to compete for talent by presenting a cohesive environment that suggests that the school’s staff and teachers are engaged in a collaborative relationship focused on similar goals and values (Hill et al., 2001). These goals and values comprise the mission endemic to each school, resulting in themes such as a focus on self-directed learning or helping low-income urban children prepare for college (e.g., U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Although these themes vary across schools, Malloy and Wohlstetter (2003, p. 234) find that teachers “emphasized that the school mission was the glue: ‘Our mission unifies us. We’re all on the same team.’” Thus, we expect to see a greater focus on professional norms and culture within charter schools than in traditional public schools, and this is in turn likely to dampen the translation of passive representation into active representation. Since teachers and administrators enjoy tremendous discretion in both types of schools, the strong professional norms and socialization that is present in charter schools is likely to encourage officials to assume a more neutral role. Unless explicitly specified by the charter, it is difficult for individuals working in charter schools to take on a role of minority advocate, since there is typically a much stronger set of factors that are embedded in the mission and culture that overshadow considerations linked to race and ethnicity (Hill et al., 2001; Malloy & Wohlstetter, 2003). Community colleges with a mission that focuses specifically on racial and ethnic issues will be an exception, but in those cases, we do not expect to see a relationship between a teacher’s race and ethnicity and student’s race and ethnicity because all teachers—regardless of racial background—are socialized to the same values. If all employees take on roles as minority advocates, passive representation will be largely irrelevant, since active representation will occur on its own. It is also noteworthy that Community colleges are typically smaller than traditional public schools, which means that administrators and peers can more actively monitor the teaching styles of individual instructors. Those that deviate from the core mission will be incentivized to alter teaching methods in order to be more consistent with school-wide objectives. Even if a Community colleges teacher feels deeply that his or her work role should be as a minority advocate, the small size of charter schools will make it tough to do so if it means deviating from the core educational philosophy. 

Hypotheses

Student veterans, regarded as non-traditional students, have met or exceeded success rates as compared to their traditional peers at community colleges in Illinois. 

SQ1: Is there a statistically significant difference between veterans and non-veterans in the success rates of students at a community college in Illinois?

H01: There is not a statistically significant difference between veterans and non-veterans in the success rates of students at a community college in Illinois.

HA1: There is a statistically significant difference between veterans and non-veterans in the success rates of students at a community college in Illinois.

A chi-square (Test of Independence) will be conducted between two categorical variables in order to assess if relationships exist.  For the proposed study the two variables of interest are dichotomous.  Success rate is reported as succeeded or did not succeed.  Veteran status is reported as veteran or nonveteran.  A chi-square analysis is justified when investigating the relationship between two nominal/discrete variables.  The percentage of responses that fall within each cell of the variable matrix will be calculated. The chi-square analysis assumes that the data are sampled randomly from multinomial mutually exclusive distributions, and that the expected frequencies within the cells of the variable matrix are not too small.  Generally, no more than 20% of the cells should have expected frequencies below five and there should be no cells with expected frequencies less than one (Pagano, 2010). If any of the expected cell frequencies are less than five, Yates continuity correction will be used to test for significance, as it is a more conservative statistic.

The calculated chi-square coefficient (χ2) will be compared to the critical value coefficient to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between the variables. If the calculated value is larger than the critical value, with degrees of freedom equal to one and an alpha of 0.05, the null hypothesis will be rejected and the alternative hypothesis will be supported.

SQ2: Among student veterans at community colleges in Illinois, is GPA a predictor for success? 

H02: GPA is not a predictor for success among student veterans at community colleges in Illinois.

HA2: GPA is a predictor for success among student veterans at community colleges in Illinois.

To address this research question, the researcher will conduct a logistic regression.  Logistic regression is an appropriate analysis when the independent variable (i.e., predictor) is continuous or discreet and the the dependent variable is dichotomous, meaning there are two possible outcomes (Stevens, 2009).  For this study, the predictor variable, GPA, is continuous.  The dichotomous dependent variable is success, defined as succeeded or did not succeed.  This analysis will evaluate of the odds of membership in one of the two outcome groups based on the values of the predictor variable.  The logistic regression analysis includes an evaluation of the overall model and an evaluation of the predictor coefficient if the overall model is statistically significant.  A χ2 coefficient will be used to evaluate the overall significance of the model.  The Nagelkerke R2 will be calculated to determine the percent of variance in the dependent variable accounted for by the predictor.  Predicted odds of membership in one of the two outcome groups will be determined by the predictor coefficient beta (β; Tabachnick & Fidell, 2012).

Unlike normal linear regression, logistic regression does not carry the assumptions of normality and equality of variances.  The primary assumptions of logistic regression are that the outcome variable must be discrete, the data is free of outliers, and there is a linear relationship between the odds ratio and the independent variable (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2012).  The assumption of linearity will be assessed by creating a new variable that divides scores on the independent variable into categories of equal intervals and running the same regression on these newly categorized versions as categorical variables.

SQ3: Is there is a correlation between student completion and persistence rates for military or non-traditional students based on the size of community colleges in Illinois? 

H03: There is not a statistically significant difference between success rates of students at community colleges in Illinois based on college size. 

HA3: There is a statistically significant difference between success rates of students at community colleges in Illinois based on college size. 

To address this research question, the researcher will conduct a Pearson correlation analysis.  A Pearson correlation analysis is appropriate when the goal of the research is to assess the relationship between continuous independent and dependent variables.  For this analysis, data on success rate and college size for Illinois community colleges will be used.  The success rate (i.e., percentage of student that succeeded) and college size (i.e., number of students enrolled) are both continuous variables.  The Pearson correlation analysis assumes that the relationship between variables is linear and that the data are normally distributed around the regression line (i.e., homoscedasticity).  The correlation coefficient (r) between success rate and college size will be evaluated using a significance level of .05.

SQ4: Is there a correlation between persistence and graduation rates for military or non-traditional students at community colleges in Illinois?  

H04: There is not a correlation between persistence and graduation rates for military or non-traditional students at community colleges in Illinois.

HA4:  There is a correlation between persistence and graduation rates for military or non-traditional students at community colleges in Illinois.  

To address this research question, the researcher will conduct another Pearson correlation analysis.  For this analysis, the variables being correlated will be the persistence rates and graduation rates of the Illinois community colleges.  Both persistence rate and graduation rate are continuous variables.  The assumptions of this analysis (i.e., linearity and homoscedasticity) are the same as for the previous analysis.  The correlation coefficient (r) between persistence rate and graduation rate will be evaluated using a significance level of .05.

Validity, Reliability, and Trustworthiness

Several strategies will be used to strengthen the research’s validity, reliability, and trustworthiness. Strategies will be incorporated into each of the three study phases. Peer review and debriefing help to ensure that any preconceptions or emotions not becoming involved in the research. Obtaining different viewpoints about the findings and data from informed but uninvolved participants is a primary goal of peer debriefing (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Using a peer reviewer provides a check on misdirected interpretations and provides a different perspective on the data results. Although this research is not guaranteed to depict a total sense of reality, steps will be taken to eliminate obvious mistakes and to more fully explain the results of the data. The strategy of member checking will also be utilized. Finally, prolonged engagement is another ingredient contributing to the study’s trustworthiness. Considerable length of time and effort involved in this study is recognized by those involved. Prolonged engagement should lead to a deeper level of fidelity by the researcher and built rapport and trust with the participants (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). 

Conclusion

This chapter explained the quantitative method design that examined the student success efforts for military veterans transitioning to Illinois community colleges. 

The research will involve a descriptive summary of the college’s programs and services, interviews of purposefully-selected student veterans, and a survey instrument. The case study institution is selected because of its model program, its accessibility to the researcher, and for its richness of data. This research will gain an understanding from students who have had the programs and services at the college available to them and who were able to provide personal viewpoints and perceptions in response to the research questions. The interviews and survey results provide administrators of higher education with additional data necessary to create interventions on behalf of students. 

Chapter IV provides the case study background, a detailed outline of the programs and services. A profile of the interviewees is provided within privacy protection protocols defined by the University Institutional Research Board (UIRB) and consistent with the parameters on the informed consent form. 

Responses to research questions 1 and 2 are provided in narrative form. Responses to research question 3 include results from the survey instrument and are in narrative form as feasible. The open-ended comments are also included in the findings. 

Chapter V will provide further discussion, conclusions, recommendations, and suggestions for further research as applicable. Through this examination, it has been the researcher’s intent to provide postsecondary leadership an assessment that may lead to necessary program modifications benefitting future students throughout the State of Illinois.

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APPENDICES

Appendix A

Executive Order issued by President Obama, April 27, 2012

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 27, 2012

Executive Order—Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members

EXECUTIVE ORDER

————-

ESTABLISHING PRINCIPLES OF EXCELLENCE FOR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS SERVING SERVICE MEMBERS, VETERANS, SPOUSES, AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to ensure that Federal military and veterans educational benefits programs are providing service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members with the information, support, and protection they deserve, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy. The original GI Bill, approved just weeks after D-Day, educated nearly 8 million Americans and helped transform this Nation. We owe the same obligations to this generation of service men and women as was afforded that previous one. This is the promise of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (title V, Public Law 110-252) (Post-9/11 GI Bill) and the continued provision of educational benefits in the Department of Defense’s Tuition Assistance Program (10 U.S.C. 2007): to provide our service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members the opportunity to pursue a high-quality education and gain the skills and training they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow.

Sine the Post-9/11 GI Bill became law, there have been reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting of service members, veterans, and their families by some educational institutions. For example, some institutions have recruited veterans with serious brain injuries and emotional vulnerabilities without providing academic support and counseling; encouraged service members and veterans to take out costly institutional loans rather than encouraging them to apply for Federal student loans first; engaged in misleading recruiting practices on military installations; and failed to disclose meaningful information that allows potential students to determine whether the institution has a good record of graduating service members, veterans, and their families and positioning them for success in the workforce.

To ensure our service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members have the information they need to make informed decisions concerning their well-earned Federal military and veterans educational benefits, I am directing my Administration to develop Principles of Excellence to strengthen oversight, enforcement, and accountability within these benefits programs.

Section 2.  Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members. The Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education shall establish Principles of Excellence (Principles) to apply to educational institutions receiving funding from Federal military and veterans educational benefits programs, including benefits programs provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Tuition Assistance Program. The Principles should ensure that these educational institutions provide meaningful information to service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members about the financial cost and quality of educational institutions to assist those prospective students in making choices about how to use their 

Federal educational benefits; prevent abusive and deceptive recruiting practices that target the recipients of Federal military and veterans educational benefits; and ensure that educational institutions provide high-quality academic and student support services to active-duty service members, reservists, members of the National Guard, veterans, and military families. To the extent permitted by law, the Principles, implemented pursuant to Section 3 of this order, should require educational institutions receiving funding pursuant to Federal military and veterans’ educational benefits to:

prior to enrollment, provide prospective students who are eligible to receive Federal military and veterans educational benefits with a personalized and standardized form, as developed in a manner set forth by the Secretary of Education, working with the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs, to help those perspective students understand the total cost of the educational program, including tuition and fees; the amount of that cost that will be covered by Federal educational benefits; the type and amount of financial aid they may qualify for; their estimated student loan debt upon graduation; information about student outcomes; and other information to facilitate comparison of aid packages offered by different educational institutions; inform students who are eligible to receive Federal military and veterans educational benefits of the availability of Federal financial aid and have in place policies to alert those students of their potential eligibility for that aid before packaging or arranging private student loans or alternative financing programs; end fraudulent and unduly aggressive recruiting techniques on and off military installations, as well as misrepresentation, payment of incentive compensation, and failure to meet State authorization requirements, consistent with the regulations issued by the Department of Education (34 C.F.R. 668.71-668.75, 668.14, and

600.9); obtain the approval of the institution’s accrediting agency for new course or program offerings before enrolling students in such courses or programs, provided that such approval is appropriate under the substantive change requirements of the accrediting agency; allow service members and reservists to be readmitted to a program if they are temporarily unable to attend class or have to suspend their studies do to service requirements, and take additional steps to accommodate short absences due to service obligations, provided that satisfactory academic progress is being made by the service members and reservists prior to suspending their studies; agree to an institutional refund policy that is aligned with the refund of unearned student aid rules applicable to Federal student aid provided through the Department of Education under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as required under section 484B of that Act when students withdraw prior to course completion; provide educational plans for all individuals using Federal military and veterans educational benefits that detail how they will fulfill all the requirements necessary to graduate and the expected timeline of completion; and designate a point of contact for academic and financial advising (including access to disability counseling) to assist service member and veteran students and their families with the successful completion of their studies and with their job searches.

Section 3.  Implementation of the Principles of Excellence

The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs shall reflect the Principles described in section 2 of this order in new agreements with educational institutions, to the extent practicable and permitted by law, concerning participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans under the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Tuition Assistance Program for active duty service members. The Department of Veterans Affairs shall also notify all institutions participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program that they are strongly encouraged to comply with the Principles and shall post on the Department’s website those that do.

The Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education, in consultation with the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) and the Attorney General, shall take immediate action to implement this order, and, within 90 days from the date of this order, report to the President their progress on implementation, including promptly revising regulations, Department of Defense Instructions, guidance documents, Memoranda of Understanding, and other policies governing programs authorized or funded by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Tuition Assistance Program to implement the Principles, to the extent permitted by law.

The Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education shall develop a comprehensive strategy for developing service member and veteran student outcome measures that are comparable, to the maximum extent practicable, across Federal military and veterans educational benefit programs, including, but not limited to, the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Tuition Assistance Program. To the extent practicable, the student outcome measures should rely on existing administrative data to minimize the reporting burden on institutions participating in these benefit programs. The student outcome measures should permit comparisons across Federal educational programs and across institutions and types of institutions. The Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs, shall also collect from educational institutions, as part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and other data collection systems, information on the amount of funding received pursuant to the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Tuition Assistance Program. The Secretary of Education shall make this information publicly available on the College Navigator Website.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense and Education, shall provide to prospective military and veteran students, prior to using their benefits, streamlined tools to compare educational institutions using key measures of affordability and value through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ eBenefits portal. The eBenefits portal shall be updated to facilitate access to school performance information, consumer protection information, and key Federal financial aid documents. The Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs shall also ensure that service members and veterans have access to that information through educational counseling offered by those Departments.

Section 4.  Strengthening Enforcement and Compliance Mechanisms. Service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members should have access to a strong enforcement system through which to file complaints when institutions fail to follow the Principles. Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Secretary of Education and the Director of the CFPB, as well as with the Attorney General, as appropriate, shall submit to the President a plan to strengthen enforcement and compliance mechanisms. The plan shall include proposals to: create a centralized complaint system for students receiving Federal military and veterans educational benefits to register complaints that can be tracked and responded to by the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Justice, and Education, the CFPB, and other relevant agencies; institute uniform procedures for receiving and processing complaints across the State Approving Agencies (SAAs) that will work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to review participating institutions, provide a coordinated mechanism across SAAs to alert the Department of Veterans Affairs to any complaints that have been registered at the State level, and create procedures for sharing information about complaints with the appropriate State officials, accrediting agency representatives, and the Secretary of Education. Institute uniform procedures for referring potential matters for civil or criminal enforcement to the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies; establish procedures for targeted risk-based program reviews of institutions to ensure compliance with the Principles; establish new uniform rules and strengthen existing procedures for access to military installations by educational institutions. These new rules should ensure, at a minimum, that only those institutions that enter into a memorandum of agreement pursuant to section 3(a) of this order are permitted entry onto a Federal military installation for the purposes of recruitment. The Department of Defense shall include specific steps for instructing installation commanders on commercial solicitation rules and the requirement of the Principles outlined in section 2(c) of this order; and take all appropriate steps to ensure that websites and programs are not deceptively and fraudulently marketing educational services and benefits to program beneficiaries, including initiating a process to protect the term “GI Bill” and other military or veterans-related terms as trademarks, as appropriate.

Section 5.  General Provisions.

This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)  The authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  The functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

BARACK OBAMA

Appendix B

“From Soldier to Student II: Assessing Campus Programs for Veterans and Service Members”

Excerpted from Executive Summary (pgs. 7-10) Summary of Key Findings

All Responding Institutions

More than half of all responding institutions (62 percent in 2012, a slight increase from 2009’s 57 percent) currently provide programs and services specifically designed for military service members and veterans, and approximately 71 percent of all responding colleges and universities (versus 57 percent in 2009) indicated that providing programs and services for military service members and veterans is a part of their long-term strategic plan. Sixty-four percent of all responding colleges and universities reported engaging in recruiting efforts specifically designed to attract military service members and veterans. Average enrollment of servicemembers and veterans at responding institutions has increased significantly since the 2009 survey. All responding institutions averaged approximately 453 active-duty military students and 370 veteran students in 2012, compared with average enrollments of 201 active-duty military students and 156 veteran students in 2009.

Public four-year institutions (74 percent) and public two-year institutions (59 percent) are more likely to have programs specifically designed for military veterans than private not-for-profit colleges and universities (51 percent).

Most responding campuses plan to continue considering veteran-friendly changes to their institutions in the next five years, the top two of which are increasing the number of services and programs for military and veteran students and providing professional development for staff on dealing with the issues facing many service members and veterans. Providing professional development for faculty members is also a top priority for institutions.

Institutions that Provide Services for Veterans and Military Personnel

The survey continued, unsurprisingly, to find great diversity in how institutions serve veterans, the variety of services and programs offered, and where services and programs are housed within the administrative infrastructure.

Eighty-nine percent of colleges and universities that offer services to veterans and military personnel have increased their emphasis on these services since September 11, 2001, including 93 percent of public four- year institutions, 85 percent of public community colleges, and 89 percent of private not-for-profit four-year colleges and universities. The top two areas of emphasis, regardless of sector, have been the establishment of marketing and outreach strategies to attract veterans and military personnel and the establishment of new programs and services for servicemembers and veterans. These two areas have reversed position since the 2009 survey. Many institutions provide financial assistance in the form of discounts or scholarships specifically for veteran students and military students. Thirty-three percent of all responding institutions offer veteran scholarships; 24 percent of all respondents offer scholarships for military students.

Approximately 82 percent of all institutions have an established policy regarding tuition refunds for military activations and deployments.

Almost all campuses that have services for veterans and service members offer some type of academic support or student services designed specifically for these students. Aside from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits counseling, the most frequently cited services were financial aid/tuition assistance counseling (67 percent) and special campus social and/or cultural events (66 percent).

Eighty-four percent of all institutions that offer services for veterans and military personnel provide counseling to assist these students with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fewer institutions have established programs or services specifically designed to assist veterans with physical disabilities and less visible disabilities such as brain injuries; only 55 percent and 35 percent of institutions respectively reported having staff trained to assist veterans with these two conditions. This is still an increase from the 2009 survey. Eighty-three percent of all reporting colleges and universities with programs and services for veterans and military personnel award evaluated credit for military training; 63 percent awarded evaluated credit for military occupational experience.

Programs and Services by Level of Veteran/Military Enrollment

Generally, colleges and universities that have larger service member and veteran populations are more likely to offer programs and services for these students than institutions with smaller military and veteran populations. Services that appear to be especially sensitive to the size of the student veteran population are training staff specifically to work with veterans, establishing an office dedicated to working with veterans, and creating targeted recruitment of military personnel and veterans.

This study also revealed that postsecondary institutions with smaller veteran and active-duty military populations are continuing to increase their emphasis on serving these students, particularly since September 11, 2001. Much of the increased emphasis has been on new programs for service members and veterans, including counseling services, the appointment of committees to develop action plans to respond to military and veteran students’ needs, and increasing marketing and outreach to veterans.

Programs and Services by Administrative Structure

The presence of a dedicated office for veterans and military students is an indication of institutional commitment; 71 percent of institutions that offer programs and services for veterans and military personnel have such an office, as opposed to 49 percent in 2009.

Among colleges and universities that have a dedicated office that provides support for military students, 91 percent of institutions have increased their emphasis on services and programs specifically for service members and/or veterans since September 11, 2001. Eighty-six percent of institutions that do not have a dedicated office have increased their emphasis on veterans and military personnel after September 11, 2001 (versus 56 percent in 2009). 

In general, institutions with a dedicated office were more likely to make programmatic changes after September 11, 2001, than institutions without a dedicated office.  These changes including establishing new programs and services (77 percent of institutions with a dedicated office versus 68 percent of institutions without such an office) and increasing staff in existing programs and services for service members and veterans (63 percent versus 34 percent). Institutions with a dedicated office continued to be more likely than those without such an office to engage in recruitment efforts targeted to service members and veterans (67 percent versus 56 percent) and to have added or expanded training for faculty and staff regarding the transitional needs of these students (53 percent versus 43 percent).

Institutions that have a dedicated office for veterans and military personnel are much more likely to tailor common services, including financial aid/tuition assistance counseling, employment assistance, academic advising, campus events, and career services, to these students. Institutions in the process of establishing a dedicated office for military and veteran students are the most likely to sponsor a student organization for veterans and military personnel.

Campuses with a dedicated office are more likely than those without to offer specialized counseling and support groups, and to refer students to support services offered by the VA. Peer support groups are still unevenly utilized by institutions with dedicated offices for veterans and military personnel.

Regarding administrative policies on such matters as financial aid or awarding college credit, as in 2009, there are few differences between institutions with and without offices dedicated to military personnel and veterans. This may be because these broad academic policies are outside the purview of an office of military/ veterans services.

All types of institutions report that the most common challenge they see facing their military and veteran students are finances, retention/degree completion, and social acculturation to campus.

Respondents from every institutional sector, regardless of the presence or absence of an office dedicated to military personnel and veterans, reported Post-9/11 GI Bill payment delays by the VA. All sectors also reported overpayments by the VA and having to process multiple enrollment certifications for veteran students based on changes in enrollment.

Chapter-5

Comparing the general population of students to those using Post -9/1I G.I. Bill benefits was a necessary part of this study. While no statistical significance was found in the age, race, and gender categories, it is still necessary to further examine why students are not retained for both the general population and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill users at different levels. Qualitative inquiry could provide more information on the experiences of students and delve more deeply into why they may have not persisted in their education endeavors. A more quantitative route could also examine other factors outside of the three chosen for this study.

The purpose of this study was to examine the retention of users of the Post -9/11 G.I. Bill compared to the general population of students on three factors: age, ethnicity, and race. Retention rates are important, especially at the level of first year or first time students. It has been shown that students are more likely to drop out of higher education during their first year more than any other time (Davidhizar & Shearer, 2005). 

If states can implement policies that help to increase retention rates, students will be more likely to graduate. Moreover, student veterans are an at -risk population in the sense that they need attention to not only academic success but to personal well-being (Fincher, 2010).

Veteran students often have transition experiences that differ from the traditional student as they are non-traditional students who are coming from rigid military expectations to a looser college environment (Elliott & Leung, 2004). They can choose their academic schedules and are not at school during traditional work hours and find themselves in a liberal environment as opposed to the more moderate or conservative military mindset. Moreover, veterans tend to not ask for assistance and can view a call for help as a cry for help; they do not see themselves as victims (Barefoot, 2004).

Many assume that veterans come to our colleges and university with myriad issues such as Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injuries, when in fact only 20% of veterans suffer from these disorders (Adams, 2000). It is important to understand the varied needs of veterans and how college campuses can address these needs. The institutions studied in this dissertation have higher -than -average veteran student populations. Many institutions, including the ones in this study, are still not where they need to be in the service of veteran students.

There is much more that HEls can do in service of veterans. Some examples of existing services include one-stop shops, veteran knowledgeable staff in different areas of the campus. Today, six years after the passage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, many institutions still do not have a comprehensive understanding across the board for the needs of veteran students (Bound & Turner, 2002).

Veterans, as students, still tend to view themselves as part of a military culture and are able to identify other veterans and distinguish them from the general population of students (Callahan & Jarrat, 2014). They prefer to ask questions of other veterans rather than campus administrators. HEls should have dedicated resources for the veteran population; these resources must be proactive instead of reactive. 

Most of the institutional responses to this second large influx of veteran students have been reactive. Moreover, recognition needs to be much broader than a general acknowledgment of veterans because without the proper infrastructure in which to support veterans, they will not have a successful academic and social experience in college.

Training faculty and staff on veteran student needs is also essential (Cave, 2006). It should not be left to Veteran Certifying Officials to be the sole point of contact for veteran students. Regular training sessions should be held for teaching faculty and administrative personnel so that when the need arises, veterans are properly advised and referred to the appropriate office on campus. One of the more well-known programs is the Green Zone (GZ). 

GZ is modeled following the Safe Zone program, which provides “safe” contacts and spaces for the LGBT community. In this same sense, veteran-friendly environments are put in place for veterans so that faculty and staff who have been appropriately trained to deal with veterans’ issues are available to veterans as needs arise. 

Additionally, the American Council on Education provides a Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions, which provides HEIs with best practices designed for veterans. Providing orientation sessions for users of the G.I. Bill is also necessary (Cook & Kim, 2009). 

In an orientation that is specifically geared toward this population, the veteran students can not only see other veterans, but have access to the faculty and staff who have the knowledge and experience working with their varied needs. This will also introduce the veterans to the services that are available to them. However, it is important to make these orientation sessions applicable and not seem a waste of time to veterans who may just want to get registered without the extra bells and whistles (Donaldson & Graham, 1999).

Problems Faced by Student Veterans

When veterans returning from combat are diagnosed with PTSD it can affect the soldier, the family, and the interpersonal life of the veteran in many unfortunate ways. Researchers from this study wanted to reveal how PTSD affected veteran’s relationships with others and if there were any associations between the severity of their PTSD and their attachment styles (Renaud, 2008). 

In another study, PTSD symptoms were compared to a number of variables and most importantly, this study found that variables such as combat exposure, attachment anxiety, and attachment avoidance were all related to the severity of soldiers PTSD symptoms. When this study used the five factor model of personality to assess which 5 personality attributes correlated with PTSD symptoms, the most significant correlation was the attribute of emotional stability and PTSD symptom severity although all 5 factors were considerably related. 

Veterans with the highest insecure attachment had the highest levels of PTSD symptoms (Raymond & Robert, 2000). Another significant finding shows that veterans who were classified as having avoidant attachment styles in their intimate relationships also experienced the highest levels of PTSD symptoms. Finally, veterans who were rated lowly for conscientiousness were more prone to psychological stress if they had anxious attachment styles as opposed to veterans with avoidant or secure attachment styles. Some of the challenges identified by student veterans are shown in below figure-1.

Figure-1: Challenges faced by Student Veterans

Source: Kirchner, M.J., Coryell, L., & Yelich Biniecki S.M. (2011). Promising Practices for Engaging Student Veterans. Quality Approaches in Higher Education, 5(1), 12-18

It becomes extremely difficult for them to get back to the traditional education system. The effects of PTSD on veterans who have experienced combat trauma can be extremely severe when it comes to their interpersonal relationships and overall functioning. Both the attachment theory model and FOA’s cognitive-behavioral model of PTSD show how interpersonal and behavioral functioning can be impaired when a veteran is suffering from PTSD. 

Discussion: Analysis and Observations

Illinois community college provides student veterans with a wide variety of causes that cater for a wide range of background and the needs for learning for different students. The students at Illinois community college have a variety of programs to choose. 

Illinois community college provide a diverse counselling and other support services which can be direct services or referral programs  and government services, Despite the huge efforts by the college, report indicate that the challenges in the personal lives of the student veterans as one of the major causes of interruption in the overall progress of the students goals.

Counselling services which have been on the fall since 2009 have been augmented in order to meet the growing need by the student population precisely immigrants and their small kids together with the first generation students in order to support them to have a successful completion of their college education.

Illinois College has also introduced a number of non-credit programs that will steer the initiative to overcome various barriers for getting education form the college. A huge number of community college student veterans such as those from underrepresented regions are usually encouraged to use the non-credit programs in order to increase the basis for skills or even enrol to other life enrichment programs. 

The non-credit program provides important skills such as counselling programs, and increases the literacy skills for the adults (Hadley & Trechter, 2010). Therefore, student veterans are usually encouraged to take these courses that can lead to improve their certificates.

Recent reforms have facilitated the processes of education opportunity for all the students. The goal of the institution is to give all the students equal opportunities to enrol in additional programs and especially for the students with special requirements.

The veteran education program has been introduced in order to develop plans to raise awareness among the students on the special needs of reinventing the veteran program. Furthermore, student veterans who are transitioning from the military program in the college life are facilitated through provision of easy access to information and services. Encouraging further expansion and development of the of Illinois community college veteran resource centres is also underway.

The veteran resource centre provides a better place for enrolling the veteran students. The VCR concentrates on a holistic kind of a centre that mainly focuses on academics, camaraderie and the wellness. The main motive is to help veterans in improving the civilian life using a healthy learning program. The VRCs facilities have supported the military due to the fact that all the services are usually centred to helping student have a successful life ahead (Harbrecht, Neidermeyer, & Tuten, 2006).

Any veteran who completes a progressive activity duty for a certain specified period with the military services and also has discharged from the duty due to other reasons other than dishonourable activities may be allowed credit in the college with regard to the given factors. It usually depends on the specified branch of service that will determine what a veteran will be awarded, which usually ranges from three or four units of credit certificate on completion of the program (Hur & Kim, 2007).

Two of the awarded units may be used to assess the physical education needs for the college. The other units are usually posted as elective veteran credits in formal service program. Based on the final recommendation of the college senate on the final credit is provided to the student as per the completion of the program. The unit credit are posted on the college transcript and also submitted on the veteran administration. Veterans are given full credit for the completed courses.

The veteran administration at Illinois community college is designed to help veterans in achieving their educational goals (Smith-Osborne, 2009). The veteran administration-staff has liaised with the US department of veterans in order to make each and every effort to provide effective education with less amount of difficulty.

Evaluation of veteran can be approved through a number of degrees on close examination of the requirements, but the certification cannot be approved for over two majors on one veteran unit. Two majors undertaken with regard to the academic policy that describes the majors’ requirements can only be approved if the dual majors are certified. This condition applies for courses that require completion of the dual majors 

With respect to the Illinois community college, the following initiatives have been established in order to improve the performance of the student:

  • To promote integration of veteran programs for veteran students and act as a conduit to veteran assistance centres and in colleges’ veteran centres an initiative for veteran centres and the military (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010).
  • Creation of veteran administration offices that usually provide a single view of contact for comprehensive information about the available college resources in the veteran centre (Persky & Oliver, 2010).
  • Provision of housing to veteran students especially those experiencing TB1, PT SD and other injuries that might place a veteran student at high risk of further illnesses. Health care practitioners also provide additional care to the injured veteran hence increasing the pool of health administrators with the skills of combat related disabilities or injuries.
  • Raising the awareness among other faculties in the college on various issues that might be facing veteran students and the service members.
  • Development of a collaborative framework in order to facilitate campus engagement between academics and veteran organizations together with other military foundations.
  • Identification and tracking of service members in order to closely monitor the progress and ease targeted communication (Lighthall, 2012).
  • Credit award from military training, provides credit education on veteran students by running a process to evaluate credit awards for specialized military training and other occupational experience  where necessary to a student service member

Illinois community college is an attractive educational institution for veteran students who wish to enrol on the affordable programs in the college. The programs are flexible and convenient especially during the weekend. For students who might not have any experience on post-secondary education or have out of college for a number of years the college also provides a wide range of support such as refresher courses and the readiness courses in order to fully prepare the prospective veteran students for the academic process.

For the service members who do not have a focus on academic progress Illinois community college has also opened a number of policies in order to accommodate these service members and improve their skills and knowledge and also establish a firm postsecondary learning process and track record. This will actually help in not only completing the enrolled Education Program but will also help in learning the desired skill-set for this program. It will provide with all the necessary resources that will turn out to be useful in the future counselling practice.

While most higher learning institutions deploy personnel with the experience in supporting normal students, Illinois College has provided the unique knowledge to take care of veteran with disabilities through counselling and several other common responsibilities. This has facilitated emotional adjustment and psychological assessment of the veteran students and improves their condition.

Such symptoms have created a widespread concern for them to be addressed through counselling in order to reduce psychological disorder which is often overwhelming in most veteran students. This will improve the progress of the students which will also alleviate the perceived difference between their present and the traditional environment with regard to the occupation.

Deploying E-Learning Environment for Student Veterans 

The e-learning environment provides a specialized form of classrooms equipped with modern and state-of-art technology to the learners. The role of instructors, who provide educational services to the learners through e-learning classrooms, is very crucial in this mode of education. There are certainly different dynamics associated to the e-learning environments and classrooms as compared to the conventional classrooms (Kirby & Sharpe, 2001). 

A tendency has been noticed in the education sector whereby the students are funneled into two groups. The regular performing students who usually come from better socio-economic backgrounds get through normal education system with better opportunities. However, the other group of student veterans that doesn’t perform well and that usually comes from poor socio-economic backgrounds is funneled into technical and vocational education system. 

It is important to note that, there are student veterans who have higher aspirations despite their poor economic backgrounds. The school administrators, decision-makers, and the teaching counselors need to take certain steps that will improve the current position of the students in the school.

To support the education needs of the student veterans, the administrators of the institutions in Illinois need to deploy ICT tools and technologies. It will play an important role in providing the best quality education to the student veterans (Kay, 2010). However, motivation is the central driver in conducting any sort of work. 

In e-learning environment, when an instructor starts to teach his students, the first important thing to consider is checking the motivation level, which each student need to possess with regards to learning from this advance mode of education. In some of the cases, it might happen that, student veterans will be demotivated for learning through this mode. They might find them more comfortable with the original classic mode of teaching. Hence, it is important for the instructor to have such knowledge of all the students. 

Student veteran will be required to learn the skills of leadership as well so as to teach the students the valuable education through e-learning. He will also require to get adjusted to the new ICT Tools and apply the student focus so as to provide an easy way of learning the education. For this purpose, training will play a key role in communicating the techniques of taking maximum benefit from a given system. 

All the staff and concerned people who are utilizing a given e-learning infrastructure in any form should be trained properly. They should be given proper instructions about how to use the system in order to get maximum output. It will help to enhance the overall productivity and growth of the organization. At the same time, it will help them to provide the desired e-learning educational services to the learners and the entire student’s community around the world.

It is important to find that, the curriculum remains the same, but the teaching methods change drastically in the technological based pedagogy. We have often observed in the traditional methods that, teachers will be conducting a lecture session on a given topic of a particular subject (Kay, 2010). He will be then providing information and even include examples; but, it might sound boring to the students.

On the other hand, technological based pedagogy mixed both traditional teaching and online teaching. So, for example, consider a topic wherein the faculty is conducting the session. Whenever he finds that the students are feeling bored, he will switch to the presentation on a given topic and will even show visuals. The students will not only find interesting, but will also understand the topic in a better way. The concepts will be more cleared, and they will be able to understand a given topic in a better way.

Further, another major difference between traditional and online learning is that, the total time taken to explain one single topic will be less in online learning methods as compared to the traditional methods. We can make weaker students learn through visualization education system, so as to help them in their studies. We can take examinations online, so that they can at least clear their exams (Kay, 2010). 

Further, we can include devices that will track the entire performance of each of the student veterans of the school. We shall display the best performing students and their results outside the class on a big screen. The usage of technological devices will even reduce the paperwork for the clerical staff of the organization. The costs of conducting examinations will also come down. Thus, there seems to be more advantages associated with E-Learning Model, however, the school management and the teaching staff needs to apply it properly so as to get the desired outputs from this model.

It seems that learning on demand and distance learning education is gaining importance and popularity in today’s contemporary world. Learners are constantly looking out for various sources so as to solve their issues of curiosity either at school, college, work or at any other place. And, hence, a Personal Learning Environment model or PLE model seems to have come into the picture with students and learners accepting this model on a wider basis. 

The school management needs to formulate the strategies for effectively implementing the ICT technologies within the classroom. PLE model is a promising pedagogical approach, wherein both informal learning methods and integrated formal learning methods are combined through social media with a view to provide students and other learners a way of online learning. This research was carried out to justify this claim, as well as conceptualize the connection between social media, the PLE model and the self-regulated approach to learning. 

It is due to this reason that, not only students of schools and colleges, but even highly knowledgeable professors, tutors, and teaching faculties are recommending such tools and techniques of learning. In addition, we can even find people to be learning during their availability time, which lessens their efforts. The PLE model, however, can be improvised further to the next stage through better technologies and through better implementation (Morse, 2000). But, one thing is for sure that, people are accepting technologies as a convenient option for learning.

Recommendations for Further Research

It is important for institutions to realize that veterans are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. There are still military personnel serving overseas and nationally who are eligible for veterans’ educational benefits. They will either use these benefits themselves or transfer them to their dependents. 

Now in 2014, it is important to note that many changes have been put in place since the initial implementation of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. For one, in 2012, President Obama released Executive Order 13607, “Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institution Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members”. The purpose of this is to create more oversight, enforcement, and accountability for the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

These principles require HEIs to provide correct and meaningful information about the true cost of attaining a college education on their campus, as well as to prevent abusive and deceptive recruiting practices, while ensuring high-quality education and student support services. 

With Executive Order 13607 and the “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success”, it is clear that HEIs can no longer sweep information under the table. With the amount of federal dollars being expended on veteran education, HEIs have been made aware that the government is expecting results and information on students. Most importantly related to this study from the “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” is number six, “Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion”. 

Data were not easy to attain and the data were not consistent. There need to be informational databases where HEIs and the VA can provide tracking methods to future researchers so that common indicators can be found. Originally, it was the intent of this study to look at several other factors that could influence retention, such as full-time versus part-time attendance, major, state of residence, etc. Because these types of data were not collected at all three institutions, it was necessary to limit this study to the four factors: age, ethnicity, gender, and use of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. 

Currently, the National Student Clearinghouse is the only source of veteran student data in the country; however the data provided are still limited (McCann, 2014). The Student Veterans of America organization released the first phase of the Million Records Project in March 2014. The attempt of this project is to provide data on student veterans to help HEIs and policymakers to make data-driven decisions to create more support for veterans pursuing higher education. Additionally, the State Council of Higher Education for Illinois, in the past few months, has sent a request for HEls in the Commonwealth of Illinois to submit greater detailed information on student veterans (Mosch, 1971). 

An examination of the cohorts from 2009 and 2010 compared to current cohorts would also be beneficial to see whether retention rates have improved along with improvements with VA processing claims and institutionally-provided resources for veteran students. Further studies could examine other factors that contribute to retention on both the quantitative and qualitative levels. Studies could examine what factors are affecting students in their late twenties and early thirties with regard to first-year to second-year retention. Non-Caucasians also had higher retention rates. 

Further studies could examine why other factors led to the significance of age and ethnicity with regard to retention rates. Female veterans are an important, yet overlooked, population. An examination as to the factors of retention that directly correlates women veterans can significantly add to the literature. Further quantitative and qualitative studies on veteran students are necessary to help educators understand the different education needs of veterans.

This study only examined students who were enrolled at the institutions in Illinois. The literature review revealed a sparseness of information on many of the different iterations of the G.I. Bill as well as on student success of veterans.

Military and transfer credit was reported in two institutions, so it was not included in the analysis; however performing an analysis on the amount of military and transfer credit is brought in prior to starting at an institution could also have an effect on student retention. Veterans, generally, come into an institution with several military training courses that have been evaluated by the American Council on Education. Many also come in after having attended several institutions prior to attending the one in the study. It would be good to see whether students who have significant amounts of military and/or transfer credit are better retained than those just beginning their education. 

As stated earlier, this study limited to Community Colleges in Illinois. It is the hope that the information presented in this dissertation can be generalized throughout the Commonwealth of Illinois and to the United States as a whole. However, there is a need of more studies like this one that performs analyses on student success and retention. A study that examined, for example, a state-to-state, a multi-state, or a U.S.-wide comparison would also be beneficial to the veteran population who are seeking higher education.

We can make weaker student veterans learn through visualization education system, so as to help them in their studies. The educational institutions can take examinations online, so that they can at least clear their exams. Further, research needs to be carried out how IT tools and devices can improve the education system for the student veterans. These tools and devices will also help in tracking the entire performance of each of the students of the school. The educational institutions shall display the best performing student veterans and their results outside the class on a big screen. This will encourage other student veterans to perform better. There needs to be updating of these devices on regular intervals, so that the administrators can update the versions, as well as one can check out on new software programs and applications related to education. 

The usage of technological devices will even reduce the paperwork for the clerical staff of the educational institutions. The costs of conducting examinations will also come down. The students, the teachers, and the school management therefore need to learn about the usage of these technological devices, for improving the techniques of education and for delivering value-adding education to all the students of the given school.

Even, President Obama, in 2013 has provided 8 ways to provide success to the veterans. The colleges and institutions at Illinois need to implement these ways and thereby, create a military-friendly environment within their institutions. For this purpose, following ways need to be adapted:

  • Develop a culture of connectedness and trust across the entire campus and thereby, promote an environment of success and well-being for the veterans
  • Provide sustained and consistent support to these veterans
  • Deploying an alert system to ensure that student veterans receive career, academic and financial support from the respective institutions in Illinois
  • Centralizing and coordinating all the activities and efforts at the campus for the student veterans
  • Collaborating with local organizations and communities to coordinate and align all the career-related activities for the student veterans
  • Implementing a tracking system for the student veterans that will collect information regarding demographics, degree completion and retention
  • Providing sufficient training to the staff
  • Solving all the challenges for the veterans and thereby, ensuring sustainability for the given education practices for student veterans

This is also demonstrated in below figure-2.

Figure-2: Beneficial Programs and Services from Student Veterans Resource Center

Source: Source: Kirchner, M.J., Coryell, L., & Yelich Biniecki S.M. (2011). Promising Practices for Engaging Student Veterans. Quality Approaches in Higher Education, 5(1), 12-18

The strategies that the institution administrators will be implementing to deploy quality teaching in a given learning environment will include:

  • Intentional Teaching to impart education related to specific descriptive subjects
  • Implementing holistic approaches to providing learning to the student veterans
  • Valuing the social and cultural contexts of the veterans’ families
  • Creating Social and Physical learning environments that will boost the learning productivity amongst the student veterans
  • Monitoring and assessing the performance of the student veterans and support them in achieving their learning objectives (Johnson, Wallace, & Sedlacek, 1979)
  • Incorporating playful activities so that they can free up their minds and can participate at their will

However, with the changing needs of the student veterans and the requirements of the institution, all these strategies will keep on changing from time to time. 

Concluding Remarks

Learning is defined as a permanent change in the performance of individuals undergoing the process of adaptation. Learning can be considered as an act of individual with a view to enhance his knowledge. The framework presents six key areas of learning and development and the activities are accordingly designed based on the areas of learning to ensure the proper learning and development of student veterans. It prepares them to get ready for the later stages of life.

Every teaching staff will formulate the process of pedagogy, which he or she will implement while teaching the students. It includes the following:

  • Understanding the education need of the students and identifying their concerns of learning
  • Gathering knowledge related to the subject that the teaching staff will be teaching and trying to solve the queries associated with it
  • And, finally, implementing the plan of action so as to provide the required educational learning to the student veterans

Some of the noteworthy points of the Action Research Planner for the student veterans related include the following:

  • Deploying a Protocol to support Inner Thinking of the student veterans
  • Setting up Learning Communities within the given learning environment
  • Allow time to both student veterans and educators to develop a relationship that will last long forever
  • Deploy Paralleling Practices so as to encourage the student veterans for creativity, which in turn will be related to the courses provided inside the institution

Institutions of higher education are at a turning point with regard to the influx of veteran students. Many have scrambled since the inception of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to provide the services needed for veterans coming to campus in larger numbers than in the last 40 years. Institutions must also understand that veterans come with myriad and different needs than other populations that attend college. 

This study examined veteran student retention and compared it to the general population of students on three factors: age, ethnicity, and gender. However, there are many other aspects that can be studied because having a multidimensional approach is necessary to assist veterans and maximize their potential as students. The findings in this study, while limited to certain demographic attributes, are important because they highlight a need to further understand retention and persistence of students using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. 

Students using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill are students of all ages, ethnicities, and genders. They come with varied and individual needs to institutions of higher education. This study is important because it exemplifies Post-9/11 G.I. Bill usage at its best. 

It is noticed that, States where HEls are more likely to have exposure to students using Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits. While this study does not explain why students are not retained but rather examines the fact that students are not being retained quantitatively, it brings to light the fact that more studies need to examine on a more in-depth level what institutions can do to better understand these differing needs of users of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

The development of the ICT in the 21st century seems to be a boon in the field of Education. The incorporation of the technological tools and techniques within the learning environment will surely improve the quality of education for the students. Even, the teaching faculties will find it easy to teach to the students various courses of a given curriculum (Abrego, Morgan, & Abrego, 2009).

However, initially, there could be challenges for the teaching faculties and for the student veterans as well. The given literature review has been carried out on the basis of a phenomenological approach to determine these challenges as well as to determine the solutions as well (Blumer, 1986). The teaching faculties need to get adjusted to a given learning environment. They need to learn the ways as well as also apply the approaches of leadership in a given learning environment. At the same time, they need to solve various queries of the students. 

It is thereby, the responsibility of the school management, the government and other concerned authorities, the parents, and the teaching staff to provide proper learning and education to these student veterans. ICT tools, techniques and pedagogies seem to be effective under various conditions and for all grade student veterans on the basis of the end-results obtained from various research papers discussed in this report.

Illinois College emphasizes on the great significance of evaluating the disability of veteran students in the college, give the rising number of veterans getting back to college campuses with various disabilities. These conditions include post-traumatic stress and depression and even brain injury which can lead to substance abuse or other substantial morbid conditions. 

References

Abrego, M., Morgan, B. M., & Abrego, C. (2009). Creating win-win partnerships and adding revelance to educator preparation. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 2(2), 51-57.

Adams, J. A. (2000). The G.I. Bill and the changing place of U.S. higher education after World War II. Paper presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education Annual Meeting, Sacramento, CA.

Barefoot, B. (2004). Higher education’s revolving door: Confronting the problem of student dropout in US colleges and universities. Open Learning, 19(1), 9-18. 

Bound, J., & Turner, S. (2002). Going to war and going to college: Did World War II and the GI Bill increase educational attainment for returning veterans? Journal of Labor Economics, 20(4), 784-815.

Callahan, R., & Jarrat, D. (2014). Helping student service members and veterans succeed. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 46(2), 36-41.

Cave, M. (2006). The use of performance indicators in higher education. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Cook, B. J., & Kim, Y. (2009). From soldier to student: Easing the transition of service members on campus. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education and the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Davidhizar, R., & Shearer, R. (2005). When your nursing student is culturally diverse. Health Care Manager, 24, 356-363.

Donaldson, J. F., & Graham, S. (1999). A model of college outcomes for adults. Adult Education Quarterly, 50(1), 24-40.

Elliott, T. R., & Leung, P. (2004). Vocational rehabilitation: History and Practice. In W.B. Walsh & M. L. Savickas (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology (3rd Ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Fincher, M. (2010). Adult student retention: A practical approach to retention improvement through learning enhancement. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 58, 12-18.

Glasson, W.1-1. (1900). History of military pension legislation in the United States. New  York: Columbia University Press.

Hadley, S., & Trechter, D. (2010). UWRF Veterans Survey Report. River Falls, WI: University of Wisconsin River Falls Survey Research Center.

Harbrecht, A., Neidermeyer, P. E., & Tuten, T. L. (2006). Changes in higher education: How to address the learning needs of the Latino population. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 3(10), 63-69.

Hur, Y., & Kim, S. (2007). Different outcomes of active and reflective learners in problem-based learning. Medical Teacher, 29(1), 18-21.

Johnson, D. H., Wallace, K. W., & Sedlacek, W. E. (1979). A comparison of the needs of returning and traditional students by sex. Journal of the National Association for Women Deans, Administrators, and Counselors, 42(3), 388-394.

Kay, J. (2010). The rising prominence of college and university mental health issues. In J. Kay & V. Schwartz (Eds.), Mental health care in the college community. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Kirby, D., & Sharpe, D. (2001). Student attrition from Newfoundland and Labrador’s public college. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 47(4), 353-368.

Lighthall, A. (2012). Ten things you should know about today’s student veteran. The NEA Higher Education Journal, 80-90.

Mosch, T. R. (1971). Updated veterans’ educational benefits. The Phi Delta Kappan, 52(5), 280-282.

Persky, K. R., & Oliver, D. E. (2010). Veterans coming home to the community college: Linking research to practice. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(1-2), 111-120. doi: 10.1080/10668926.2011.525184

Rumann, C. B., & Hamrick, F. A. (2010). Student veterans in transition: Re-enrolling after war zone deployments. The Journal of Higher Education, 81(4), 431-458. 

Smith-Osborne, A. (2009). Does the GI Bill support educational attainment for veterans with disabilities? Implications for current veterans in resuming civilian life. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 36, 111-125.

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