4 Things You Need To Consider When Applying To College

Education
Photo by Sgt. Marc Loi

Years ago, I watched as President Barack Obama launched the Post-9/11 GI Bill in front of a crowd of student veterans and their spouses at George Mason University. It was a great gift, ensuring veterans the opportunity to earn a degree and pursue their dreams.


But what good is a gift if you’re not prepared to use it to its full potential? If you’re thinking about college, ask yourself these questions:

1. Why do you want to get your college degree?

This is a question I pose to my students on the first day of class and I always have a couple of blank stares.

Be honest with yourself. Who are you getting your degree for? Are you pursuing a degree because you think that’s what you should be doing? What is your ultimate goal and how will a college degree help you achieve that goal?

There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions, but being aware of why you’re investing the time and energy into earning a degree will help you outline your goals, narrow down which type of programs you should be looking at and, hopefully, stay on track and be successful in the long term.

2. What type of degree will help you achieve your goals?

A lot of emphasis and importance is placed on traditional four-year programs at nonprofit universities, for good reason. Four-year programs offer students a well-rounded education. You’ll take core courses in humanities subjects and schools offer a variety of majors. Many traditional schools offer study abroad opportunities and encourage students to push themselves outside of their comfort zones by taking classes outside of their field. The skills you develop in a four-year program can be applied to a variety of jobs after.

For-profit schools often catch a lot of negative media attention and not all of it is unjustified. However, for students who do their research and develop well-defined goals, certain for-profit programs may be the right fit. For nontraditional students who work full time and/or have families to support, these schools provide flexibility with scheduling that many traditional programs cannot. For those who are already working in the field they want to be in and need a degree to reach the next level, these schools can be a good option if approved by employers.

Related: How veterans screw up college.

While the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not cover technical and vocational schools the same way it covers degree programs, it does reimburse students for actual net costs for in-state tuition. These training schools offer practical skills to their students, often leading to apprenticeships and full-time employment.

3. What type of community will help you achieve your goals and help you complete your degree?

Communities are an essential component when considering schools. They can make or break a student’s experience. Communities act as an additional support structure, holding students accountable and helping to ensure their success.

You need to ask yourself whether you can thrive at a large university with potentially 100-plus students in your class, or if you would benefit from smaller class sizes with more support from your instructor.

A challenge many student veterans face when returning to a traditional school is the community of students that are in their classes. Historically, at traditional four-year schools, the majority of students are between 18 and 22. Student veterans often express dismay at relating to their younger classmates who don’t share similar life experiences and perspectives.

Students at nontraditional schools are often older — 27 is the median age, according to Forbes Magazine — and have families and life experience that veterans can connect with.

4. How well does the school you’re considering support its student veteran population?

There are many ways to define “support.” Many schools offer financial support through yellow ribbon programs and scholarships for service members. On Aug. 1, Congress passed legislation granting student veterans in-state tuition at public universities.

There is a long list of colleges and universities that provide additional services to its veteran population. Many support veterans clubs and organizations, helping student vets connect with and support each other. Some schools provide academic and career counselors specifically for student veterans.

If a strong veteran support network is important to you, check out this list from Military Friendly Schools, a partner of the Student Veterans of America.

Looking for more? The Department of Veterans Affairs offers these questions to consider.

Here are five smart degrees to consider when applying for college.

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less