Coastline College Helping Transition New Veterans to Academic Life

Did you know that according to the American Council on Education, over 5 million post-9/11 veterans will transition out of the service to civilian life by 2020?  In addition, there will be almost 22 million veterans nationwide.  The transition from the military to civilian life is demanding enough but can be even more so for those veterans who make the choice to enhance their future by attending a higher education institution.

Veteran Students in California

California is home to the nation’s largest veteran population in the nation totaling 1.8 million veterans.  The California Community College System is the largest higher education system in the nation and serves more than 60 percent of all veterans in California higher education.  More than 90 percent of veterans who take advantage of their government education benefits and pursue a post service educational path will attend one of California’s 115 community colleges.  As a result, California’s community colleges are often the veteran’s first point of entry into higher education or specific workforce after discharge. 

Providing Assistance to Veterans Students

Veterans who enroll in college face a unique set of challenges when beginning their academic careers, compared with those of traditional students.  Transitioning from military to civilian life can be very difficult given the evident differences between life in the service and civilian lifestyle.  The military is a distinctly hierarchal environment, and while in the military, these veteran’s decision making involved following rules supported by outside forces; in a higher education environment, self-regulation is the key. Where they were once part of a collective unit where there was a sense of  belonging, these student veterans may now experience a sense of isolation.  They face unique issues in achieving educational and professional achievement, including sometimes physical and emotional disabilities while assimilation to civilian life.   Their military experiences, combined with battling stereotypes and entering an unstructured college setting, contribute toward what can be a challenging transition.  

Additionally, a number of  these veterans are entering postsecondary education for the first time and a significant number of these veteran students have had a substantial time lapse since their last academic experience.  Many need basic skills classes to prepare them to take college level courses leading to certifications, transfer credits or degrees.  They are generally an older student, possibly with a family to care for.  It is important that these student veterans have the proper resources and support systems to make this adaption as easy as possible. 

Young smiling army soldier meeting with his therapist and shaking hands while having a meeting at doctor’s office.

Higher education professionals should seek to understand these special student veterans needs and  must be aware that an array of special resource services is essential to establish an accommodating environment to help these veterans on their new path to academic achievement. Student success data shows that having resources to help assimilate veterans back into civilian life ensures better outcomes in student success.  Improved transition assistance programs can identify the special needs of these veteran students

Due to these unique circumstances associated with student veterans, state and federal legislation were proposed to provide community colleges with grant funding to create Veterans’ Resource Centers nationwide which would offer resources and services that were specific to the needs of these veterans.   Studies have showed that properly supported Veterans’ Resource Centers have made a significant difference in the success of our veterans on campus and throughout life.

Veteran Resources at Coastline College

The Coastline College Veterans Resource Center (VRC) was established to help our incoming veteran students transition from soldiers to academic environment, as they rebuild better lives for themselves, and their families. The VRC provides Coastline student and community veterans with an informative and supportive environment so that they may explore the comprehensive array of resources available to them and provides our veterans with transition assistance, including personal assistance, educational guidance, and professional resource support services.  These Coastline’s VRCs offer comfortable surroundings where veterans find access to academic resources, community referrals, networking opportunities, counseling and advisement services, computer access with Wi-Fi, a place to study, and workshops of value to veterans.

Coastline now has three Veterans Resource Centers located on the various campuses. The first Coastline College Veterans Resource Center, which was opened to help these incoming student veterans was established in the Fountain Valley Student Services Center.  The second Veterans Resource Center was opened at the Newport Beach Campus. The third most recent Veterans Resource Center just had its grand opening on Monday, August 19, 2019 at the Coastline College Garden Grove Campus.

Coastline College has been serving the active duty service members and veterans for more than 40 years. Coastline is committed to honoring veterans for their service and to fully assist them with an effective transition and reintegration into civilian life.  Our goal at Coastline has always been and will continue to honor our Veterans for their service, and to fully assist them with an effective transition and reintegration into civilian life.

Are you a Veteran looking to start or continue your academic journey? We are still registering for the fall!

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