Veterans face many hurdles when they get out of the military, including mandatory classes, checklists, equipment returns, and more…and that’s all before they even start planning for their post-military careers. Many go on to pursue higher education when they leave the service, and many veterans are turning to National University.
There’s a good reason for this. Starting a new life outside the military can be daunting. Veterans need continuity and a sense of stability as they start their new lives. As non-traditional students, separated veterans need to know their unique skills and experience will matter while receiving a quality education that will lead to a job in their chosen field.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Lagarian Smith earned both a bachelor’s in Information Technology Project Management and a master’s in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance from National University. With a wife, two children, and an active military career, he needed an education that suited his life and his goals. NU’s class schedule and veteran-specific resources made getting both his degrees incredibly smooth. There’s a reason NU has been identified as a Military FriendlyⓇ School.
“Before I chose National, I was looking at other universities online,” Smith told Task & Purpose. “There were nine-week classes, 12-week classes. I’m a fast learner and I’m used to a high-speed environment, so all I could think was ‘Man, this is going to take forever.’”
National University’s four-week class schedule not only suited his skills and abilities, it allowed him and his wife to balance their family time with his school and work schedules. In the Marine Corps, Smith earned numerous technical certifications and taught Cisco Certified Network Associate classes. He loved the work and wanted to build on this foundation, so he made it his goal to advance his military career while preparing for his post-military life.
“If you want to get it done, and done right, then you definitely want to consider National University’s four-week classes,” Smith said. “Not only does the school impact your life in the long run, but in the short term, they help you get it done in a fast, expedient manner without losing the quality of education.”
As a nonprofit, National University has always been attuned to the unique needs of veterans and service members. Founded in 1971 by a retired U.S. Navy officer, NU has a dedicated Veterans Affairs office that can help separated veterans secure their GI Bill tuition benefits as well as the VA’s Tuition Assistance Top-Up program.
In addition to veteran-specific grants and scholarships, National University is a Yellow Ribbon School, which means they will cover the remainder of all veterans’ tuition not covered by the post-9/11 GI Bill.
Once enrolled, veteran students have over 190-degree programs, plus certificates and credentials to choose from, military enrollment advisors, and they can even get college credit for their military experience and professional military education classes. And National University’s Veteran Center offers veteran students a lifeline to help with any guidance or support during their transition.
That’s how Lagarian Smith stayed on track through new deployments, new assignments, and new family members. Smith was able to complete his bachelor’s degree while dealing with the demands of military service and a busy home life. He loved that he was learning about the latest technologies in a field he was passionate about. His bachelor’s degree even helped him get promoted. He enjoyed the experience and benefits so much, he decided to stay at NU to complete his master’s degree.
“It was a juggle,” Smith said. “Honestly, to this day, I remember how busy I was… the biggest thing is that there’s a huge support system within the NU ecosystem, and some people don’t even tap into all of it.”
Smith’s master’s-level education not only helped him get promoted in the Marine Corps, it helped him secure a SkillBridge internship at Google. He will be officially retired at the end of 2023, and already he has job offers from some of the most prestigious companies in the defense industry.
“It was my dream to earn a bachelor’s. And it made sense to earn a master’s degree to complement the bachelor’s and the skills that I learned in the Marine Corps. So, to every service member thinking about it, stop thinking. Just do it. You served your country, but an education will make you stand out above your peers.”