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Picking a School for Your GI Bill Education

By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva

Many Veterans attempting to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill, or other Veteran education benefits, are often bogged down by the many choices that Veterans face, including which school they should attend. Should they go to a community college, four year university, or a technical or vocational school? In this third article of our Veteran Education series, I’ll attempt to shine some light on how to pick a school.

If you know what you want to do for a civilian job, that’s great! Find out what schooling and certifications, licenses or degrees might be needed for that field, and set to work. But if you’re among the Veterans who don’t know what they want to “do” for their next career, that is ok too.  I recommend a more traditional community college or university degree program for those Vets. Now let’s look at some school options.

Choices include public schools and for-profit schools. Many for-profit schools, including culinary, technical and vocational schools offer Veteran Students a more direct path to reaching specific career goals. If your desired career field requires a certification, license or vocational training instead of a degree, then public school could be a waste of your time and education benefit. Just make sure that your for-profit school education and certifications will be recognized and respected by employers in your desired career field.

Veterans venturing into a more traditional education, at a college or university, should first review their academic transcript. If you don’t have any previous college, or have accumulated very few units, I recommend enrolling in community college for two reasons. The first reason is that community college can help you refresh or refine study habits and writing skills. Jumping right in to a university could prove too difficult for a student who is several years removed from their last class. The other reason that I recommend community college is to utilize their university transfer process. Many universities are more likely to accept junior college transfer students than new enrollees.

Veterans are also urged to research any school before enrolling. The best school for you is not always the one closest to your house. With the increased number of Veterans using the GI Bill today, there are a lot of schools that are only interested in taking your GI Bill money from the VA, and not providing you with an education. You earned this benefit through your sacrifice, hard work and time, so spend it wisely.

Veterans need to make sure that their potential school is Veteran-friendly. Find out if the school has a Veteran resource center. Call that center, before you enroll and talk to them about what they have to offer you. If the school doesn’t have a Veterans Resource Center, you might want to consider what other resources that school might not provide for their Veteran Students.

When I went to school, using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, it was unnerving at times, not knowing all of the steps of tuition payments and how the GI Bill would transition from semester to semester. CSU Channel Islands, my alma mater, provided me with a contact for all of my GI Bill questions. From orientation through graduation, whenever questions came up, I was put at ease. This is just one of many ways that Veteran-friendly schools serve their Veteran Students.

If any Veteran has GI Bill related questions please email me at joes@militaryconnection.com I’ll help you in any way that I can. For additional support, here are helpful links to the VA’s site for choosing a school and applying for education benefits.