tc columbia

Improving Student Services for Military Veterans

By: Melinda Mechur Karp & Serena Klempin

Abstract

Improving Student Services for Military Veterans

Education is a key component in the transition back to civilian life and employment for many new veterans. Enrollment in college allows veterans to upgrade existing skills or gain new skills in order to transition to a new career. Successful completion of college programs provides veterans with valuable credentials that may validate uncredentialed skills they gained in the military. However, many service members find it difficult to align these skills and knowledge gained via military service to the civilian labor market.

To improve the educational experiences and outcomes of student veterans enrolled in community colleges, the Kisco Foundation in 2015 awarded five community colleges across the country the Kohlberg Prize, a six-month planning grant to enhance services for veterans by connecting them to broader college reform initiatives. The authors of this review examined the community colleges’ proposal narratives to understand the colleges’ perceptions of veteran students’ strengths and challenges, their current delivery of supports and suggestions for improving support services, and the relationship between their veteran services and broader reform efforts. The authors gained insights into what community college personnel believe are the key ways to improve support for their veteran students. The review explores strategies taken by the five awardee community colleges to better serve veteran students so that they feel more comfortable at college and are better able to persist and earn a credential. Policy recommendations are also provided. A summary version of the review is also available.