If you are looking at a specific career track, make sure that the school you choose offers a program that will prepare you for the work you want to do. Additionally, if your educational goals include a graduate degree, it is important to select an undergraduate program that is accredited
The term veteran-friendly is used frequently to describe colleges and universities that have policies and procedures in place that are supportive of veterans. However, veteran friendly practices may vary from institution to institution, and their level of importance may vary according to the individual needs of each veteran.
Consider which of the following practices are important to you when selecting a college. Then, gather information from the school’s military student services office, student veterans association, registrar or transfer center, and financial aid office to determine whether the college you are interested in has the veteran-friendly characteristics that you need.
- Has a website with easy-to-find links on its home page to veterans programs and services
- Accepts transfer credit for military training and experience
- Has an active student veterans association
- Has tuition deferment policies which prevent students from being billed for tuition and fees before VA education benefits are paid
- Provides a physical location for student veterans to convene
- Offers specialized services for veterans such as priority registration, orientation, academic advising, and counseling
When choosing a school, especially an online one, you need to ensure that they are credible. If you are looking to possibly transfer to a physical campus, check with the schools to see if they accept transfer credits from the school that you are attending.
Many veterans are interested in online learning due to its flexibility. Online learning programs can be a great option for those who cannot get to a physical classroom or those who excel at learning in an online environment. Self-directed learners who are also technology savvy find online learning easier than those who need a lot of structure and contact with a professor and other students. Veterans with injuries who might benefit from academic accommodations may want to speak with the online school's disability services coordinator about how accommodations can be put in place for their online programs.
To determine whether online learning is a good choice for you, you can complete an on-line self-assessment and use the results help you make your decision. You can also view a sample course to get the layout of a typical online classroom format. Another way to find out if online learning is for you is to take an online class as a pass/fail option or to audit the class.
With so many college degrees and programs to choose from, it can be hard to distinguish a quality institution from one that may not deliver on its promises. Beware of diploma mills” which may not be authorized to operate in Virginia. The federal and state departments of education monitor colleges which have met acceptable accreditation standards. Accreditation is important because it is the seal of quality behind any degree. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) maintains a list of colleges which are authorized to operate in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs State Approving Agency also maintains a list of approved facilities where veterans can use their VA education benefits.
Also available is the Veteran Education and Accredited Online Colleges resource link, for accredited online colleges. The site's content discusses the economic climate veterans are returning to and the educational and career opportunities made available to them by the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Other Important Information
If you are a veteran with an injury or disability, you should also find out about:
- Waivers and substitutions: Are there written policies and procedures for course waivers and substitutions in the event that you have difficulty completing required coursework? If so, what kind of documentation is required?
- Course load and graduation time: Is priority registration available for students with disabilities? Is it possible to maintain a reduced course load?
- Student groups: Are there groups that enable student veterans to network with other students on campus?
- Support services: What support services are available to all students with disabilities? Does the campus have support services specifically for students with your type of injury or disability?
- Orientation: Are there orientation sessions designed to address the needs of veterans?