Veterans return to the classroom

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

By Raymond Porreca

Conventional wisdom dictates that “the third time’s the charm.” But for DCCC student William Burke, it’s four that is the lucky number.

Burke, a military veteran with more than 10 years in the army and navy, is currently knee-deep in his newfound role as a full-time student.

“My current attempt at a degree is one of many,” Burke said. “While in the service, I attempted three separate goes at college.”

This time, Burke is positive he has made the right academic decision. After enrolling in college programs while an active member of the military, Burke felt that he was too busy to focus on school.

Now Burke has been a full-time student at DCCC for more than two consecutive semesters. His chosen major is mechanical engineering, a career path that he believes he will excel in.

Burke is one of thousands of veterans who have returned from the armed services and embarked on a journey to further their education. According to a 2014 report by the National Conference of State Legislature, more than 900,000 veterans are receiving education benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

And with so many veterans returning to the school in pursuit of an education, many different services and programs have been created to ensure that veterans have the resources necessary to adjust to their new lives.

In November, DCCC was recognized by Victory Media as one of the top “Military Friendly” schools in the nation. According to Victory Media, the award is presented to “colleges and trade schools…doing the most to embrace military students.”

One of the ways that DCCC has fostered and encouraged veterans is through its

ability to offer credit for military training and knowledge. For many veterans, this transfer of experience to credit is very beneficial when enrolling in college.

Financial aid programs, including benefits from the GI Bill, are one of the ways that veterans can attend college for a considerably more affordable cost.

While there are governmental programs to help fund education expenses for veterans—and academic institutions that go out of their way to provide aid— transitioning from a life in the military to the roll of a student is not always easy.

A recent report by the Office of Veterans Affairs noted that only 15 percent of today’s enrolled veterans are “traditionally aged” students. The report adds that the majority of veterans enrolled in secondary education are between the ages of 24 and 40.

Many veterans are “non-traditionally” aged due to time spent deployed oversees.

As a full-time student and the father of a young child, Burke said that despite his best intentions, making the time for schoolwork can be difficult.

Burke had a difficult time transitioning from what he was used to in a school setting before the military.

“The hardest part of returning to school was its structure,” Burke said. “Coming out of the military, it was a shock to see students on their phones or talking during class. That was a weird hurdle to overcome.”

DCCC invites veterans to visit Room 4260 in the Academic Building or call 610- 359-5356 to learn more about veterans services.

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