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Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide

Five Tips to Ease Adjusting to Student Life

Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
Ryan G. Wilber/Released

For members of the National Guard and reserve, enrolling into higher education or a vocational program while also reintegrating into civilian life can be challenging. The following five tips can help ease the transition to student life.

  1. Choose a school that’s military friendly. Many schools are starting to provide resources and services geared toward veterans and members of the National Guard and reserve. Look for schools that offer on-campus services such as academic advising, career counseling, tutoring, family services, student veterans associations and special events for veterans. Ask questions when researching schools to determine the services available. For example:
    • Is there an orientation or transition program tailored to student veterans and members of the National Guard or reserve?
    • Does the school have a resource office or dedicated personnel to assist and support student veterans and members of the National Guard or reserve?
    • Does the school offer credits for academic work completed while in the military?
    • What is the school’s policy in the event that a student member of the National Guard or reserve gets called to active duty?
  2. Obtain a military transcript. Academic transfer policies vary from school to school. Military transcripts provide a description of your military training and work history in civilian language and can help school counselors working with service members or veterans.1 Request a military transcript from your branch of service at:
  3. Get involved on campus. Many student veterans and members of the National Guard and reserve find that establishing relationships with peers on campus can help with the transition process. Attending on campus activities, such as orientation, is a great way to learn about available resources and become part of the campus community.1
  4. Consider non-traditional programs. Attending school as a full-time student might not be possible for some members of the National Guard or reserve. Many schools offer alternative schedules through online programs, night classes, weekend classes and distance learning options. Enrolling as a part-time student is another way to gradually transition to student life or accommodate limited schedule availability.
  5. Make the match. When evaluating prospective schools, it is important to consider factors such as size, location, diversity, career goals, preferred major and family circumstances. Research a variety of programs and choose the school that matches the needs of the National Guard member or reservist.

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