In advance of Veterans Day, US News and World Report and Victory Media have released their lists of the best colleges for veterans with varying criteria. The US News and World Report requires the college to participate in federal initiatives to make them affordable for vets. Yet being able to afford college is only one of the myriad challenges for veterans returning to school or entering college for the first time.
Military vets face a unique set of issues when transitioning back into civilian life, including readjustment issues, recovery from physical injuries, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most colleges are unprepared to meet their needs and without special attention, many will fail to graduate.
Studies show that some strategies work to keep veterans in school. These strategies include specialized orientation programs, helping veterans connect with one another, training faculty and staff on challenges veterans face, and offering more counseling and financial aid.
Victory Media’s criteria for “Military-Friendly” colleges goes beyond affordability and is determined through a survey that evaluates campus support, recruitment practices and job placement. Yet even they admit on their website that they are only just beginning and are working on refining their methodology and increasing participation.
For now, a veteran-friendly college could mean only the participation in the GI bill. Yet studies show that mental health support on campus is as important as affordability when determining the best institutions for veterans to attend.