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Home Blog Balancing Studies and Everyday Life as a Veteran Student: Tips for Success

Balancing Studies and Everyday Life as a Veteran Student: Tips for Success

March 15, 2024

Contributing Author: Alley Bardon

7 mins read

Enrolling in college after serving in the military can be a major stepping stone toward achieving your long-term professional goals. At the same time, transitioning from military life to college life can pose some unique obstacles. The good news? You can apply the discipline and resilience you've already developed in the military, to help ease your transition to college.

We’ve put together some tried-and-true military study techniques and veteran education resources to help you develop good study habits and achieve academic success in this new chapter.

Understanding the Unique Needs of Veteran Students

Students transitioning from military life to college life simply don't have the same needs as students attending college right out of high school.

Transitioning From Military to Academics

Depending on where you served in the military, transitioning to academia may feel like an entirely new world. This can be intimidating, particularly if it's been several years since you were in any kind of school setting. With this in mind, it may take some time to adjust to being in an academic environment—regardless of whether you're taking classes online, on campus, or a combination of both (hybrid).

Balancing Life Commitments

Compared to non-military college students, veteran students might have other life commitments or obligations that can make academia more challenging for them. Consider, for example, that many military veterans may already have families to support or new jobs to which they are also transitioning as they start their educational journeys. As a result, they may have an especially hard time juggling all of these commitments while also setting aside the time needed to study and complete college coursework.

Impact of Study Habits on Academic Performance

For military veterans who have been away from academia for some time, getting back into the swing of studying and completing class assignments can be a major obstacle to academic success. By preparing with effective study techniques ahead of time, veteran students can set themselves up for greater success.

Effective Study Techniques

Military veterans enrolling in college classes should take time to consider which study techniques and strategies will be most useful to them. For instance, for students who know they have problems with procrastination, it may make sense to block out 30 to 60 minutes of time to work on school assignments or study each day. This, in turn, can help to prevent last-minute cramming sessions and rushed coursework.

Discipline and Consistency

One of the things military veterans have going for them when they enter college is that they have already developed a strong sense of discipline and consistency through time served in the military. Translating these characteristics into college life can help set up veteran students for more success, whether that means getting up early to study before class or simply staying consistent with attending lectures and meeting deadlines.

Time Management Strategies for Veteran Students

Many veterans who are new to the college struggle with time management, especially if they are already busy trying to juggle other life obligations (like jobs and family life). In many cases, it may feel like there are not enough hours in the day to tackle school-related responsibilities without making sacrifices in other areas.

This is where preparing with some effective time management strategies can make all the difference:

Prioritizing Tasks and Responsibilities

At the end of the day, achieving academic success as a veteran student really boils down to prioritizing tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. This means being able to look at everything you need to get done and determine what to complete first, what can be put off, and what can be delegated.

One of the best time management strategies to accomplish this is known as the Eisenhower Matrix, which makes it easier to distinguish between important/not important and urgent/not urgent tasks. By implementing this technique into your own study habits, you could improve your time management in all aspects of your life.

Realistic and Achievable Schedule

Another key tip for veteran students to keep in mind is that there's a difference between creating a schedule and keeping a realistic schedule. As much as you may want to dive into college full time in order to graduate and earn your degree promptly, it may not be realistic to do so while you're also working full time or taking care of a family.

Thus, it's a good idea to assess your schedule and goals to make changes accordingly. An example of this could be dropping your enrollment to part time so you can work your way through college at a steady pace without risking burnout.

Utilizing Resources for Academic Success

Many schools these days offer helpful tools and resources specifically for veterans and military students, so be sure to research and take advantage of these whenever possible.

Academic Support Services for Veterans

In addition to military education assistance, some military-friendly schools may even have campus offices or departments completely dedicated to supporting military and veteran students in their transition to academia. This could include specialized tutoring services or even professional development resources to help veterans seek employment in their respective fields of study.

Online and On Campus

Whether you choose an online or on-campus degree program, you should have access to academic support services for veterans. For online students, this may come in the form of virtual tutoring services or the ability to set up an academic advising session via phone call. Regardless, you should never lack the support you need as a veteran student simply because you aren't attending classes on a physical campus.

Balancing Work, Family, and Academic Commitments

Because veteran students often have so much on their plates as they enter school, they must also be prepared to better balance their commitments in all aspects of their lives.

Strategies for Managing Responsibilities

Incoming veteran students are encouraged to carefully weigh their responsibilities and take on their academic loads carefully. This might look like enrolling in classes only part time to avoid stress and overwhelm in other areas of your life. It may also mean taking occasional spring and/or summer term classes to work toward degree completion.

Open Communication

Additionally, veteran students are encouraged to maintain open communication throughout the process. This not only includes teachers but also includes managers (for working students), supervisors, and family members. All too often, veteran students are hesitant to ask for help when they feel overwhelmed, but when an instructor knows you have a full schedule and are doing your best, you might be surprised at how much they are willing to work with you to help you achieve your goals.

Building a Support Network

Having a strong support network is a must when enrolling in college as a veteran student. There may be times when you don't feel like continuing your studies; this is when you'll want to be able to fall back on your loved ones to support and encourage you. You might even need to let others pick up the slack in other areas of your life while you focus on your studies. Remember that it's OK to accept help when you need it, especially as you work toward your academic and professional goals.

Connecting with Fellow Veteran Students

Whenever possible, try to connect with other veteran students who attend the same school or program as you. Even if you are only attending classes online, being able to commiserate and develop relationships with other veterans can help you feel more understood and supported. After all, nobody understands the challenges and triumphs of a veteran college student quite like someone who is going through the same thing.

Mentorship Opportunities

Depending on the specific degree program or industry you're getting into, you may also want to explore valuable mentorship opportunities in your chosen field. This can be a great way to get much-needed support throughout your academic journey while having somebody you can count on to answer questions and offer guidance on your chosen professional path.

In some cases, mentorships could even turn into job opportunities once you graduate with your degree. At the very least, they provide the opportunity to network with others in your field, which could prove useful when it comes time to search for employment in your field of study.

Interested in Returning to School as a Veteran?

Whether you're pursuing a certificate or a full-fledged degree as a military veteran, these time management and study tips are sure to help ease the transition to a college education.

At the same time, where you choose to complete your veteran study program can make all the difference in your academic success. Ideally, you'll want to choose a college that has sufficient experience working with and supporting student veterans along with plenty of tools and resources to help them succeed.

At Lindenwood University, we take great pride in being among the top military-friendly colleges in the United States. We also offer military education assistance to make college more attainable, including discounts and credits on our undergraduate and graduate programs. Meanwhile, our dedicated Veterans Affairs Center is always here to help as you transition to academia.

Learn more about how Lindenwood University supports military and veteran students, then reach out to request more information about any of our programs.

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