College leaders are recognizing that programs to recruit and support military-connected students aren’t just beneficial for veterans—they’re a valuable window into the needs of adult learners more broadly. Amid declining college enrollment numbers and ambitious attainment goals, adult learners have emerged as a key priority for many institutions. “Demographic research tells us colleges have to compete in the adult space,” J. Michael Haynie, executive director of Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “We not only owe it to veterans, but it makes good business sense for us as well.”
Non-profit colleges “for many years largely ceded [the student veteran] market to for-profit institutions” but now are working to eliminate the biases and hurdles that can frustrate military-connected students. These students attain higher-than-average GPAs and graduation rates—and offer skill sets highly desired by employers—but remain especially underrepresented at selective private colleges. Nearly two-thirds of military veterans are first-generation college students, and while many would thrive at selective institutions, “there seems to be a disconnect,” says Catharine Bond Hill, managing director at Ithaka S+R.
Non-profit institutions working to attract, support veteran students
A growing number of colleges and universities, however, have developed resources to ease military veterans’ transition to higher education. In doing so, the Chronicle notes, they are simultaneously creating “an opportunity to learn which support programs might work best for the adult learners that colleges are eager to enroll.”
San Diego State University, for example, has a veterans center that serves nearly 5,000 veterans and active-duty students. It inspired the creation of a similar “commuter resource center” featuring free printing, access to computers, a microwave and refrigerator, and study rooms—resources and opportunities for relaxation and connection that can make all the difference for both student veterans and other adult learners living off-campus.
Similarly, Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania took a cue from the success of its student veterans center to launch a hub that assists transfer, international, and adult students with registration, counseling, tutoring and more. “As is the case with student veterans, it’s very important to meet people where they are … and learn what you can do to give them the best chance to learn,” university President Chris Howard, a retired Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel, told the Chronicle.
Georgetown University’s Veterans Office serves military-connected students as they apply to, attend, and advance beyond Georgetown. To learn more about our commitment to veteran student success, visit the Veterans Office home page.