An Examination of Factors

Impacting Military Veteran
Students’ Community College
Persistence
A D I S S E RT A T IO N D E F EN S E
by
A N GE L A R . D IC KS O N
DISSERTATION CHAIR: LISA D. HOBSON, P h.D.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M UNIVERSITY
EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
]

JULY 2013

Committee Members
Lisa D. Hobson, Ph.D.

Chair

College of Education

William A. Kritsonis, Ph.D.

Member

College of Education

Laxley Rodney, Ph.D.

Member

College of Education

Harry Adams, Ph.D.
College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology

Jennifer Butcher, Ph.D.
College of Education – Lamar University

Outside
Member
Member

Statement of the Problem
and Purpose Statement
There are no existing models that focus on the

complex issues faced by military veteran students as
they transition from military service and acclimate
into higher education settings.
The purpose of the research was to: (a) assist

community college stakeholders in identifying the
needs of veteran students and types of specific
programming necessary to meet those needs, and (b)
assist in the modification of current programs and
services and/or the development of new programs
that aid military veteran students.

Framework

Se
lf
MOVING
THROUGH

Situa
tion

anticipa
ted
and/or
unantici
pated

Supp
ort

nonev
ent

MOVING
IN

Strat
egies

MOVING
OUT

Schlossberg’s Adult Transition Theory (1995)

Schlossberg’s (1995) Adult Transition Theory
Related to Research Questions

• RQ1: How do military
veteran students
experience community
college?

Moving In

Moving
Through
• RQ2: What community
college resources and
services do military
veteran students perceive
as being beneficial in
meeting their financial,
academic, social, and
professional needs?
• RQ3: What type of
mentoring programs are
currently in existence for
military veteran students
at the sample site?

• RQ4: What on-campus
resources do community
college stake holders
(military veteran students,
administrators, faculty and
staff) perceive to be the
major facilitators of the
retention of the military
veteran student?
• RQ5: How does mentoring
impact military veteran
students': a. adjustment to
community college level of
study; b. acquisition of
relevant study skills, and;
c. persistence in
completing an associate
degree?

Moving Out

Participants of the Study:

The participants of my study included:
• ten military veteran students,
• six college and executive-level
administrators,
• two professors,
• two advisors, and
• two mentors.

Military Veteran Student Participants
9
8
7
6

Number of
students in
study by
military
branch

5
4
3
2
1
0

Army Air Force

Navy

Marines

Male

Female

Method
Qualitative research methods were best
suited for this study as the intent was to
gain a thorough understanding of the lived
experiences of the participants’ perceptions
related to persistence, retention, career
readiness, and program completion at the
community college level.

Data Collection
Military Veteran Students responded via

Survey Monkey – no participant
volunteered for face-to-face session
(original intent was to form focus groups).
Administrators and Advisors were

interviewed during a face-to-face session.
Professors and Mentors responded to

electronic survey.

Instrumentation
 Researcher

developed open-ended
questions for all protocols.
o Seven

questions were designed for use
with administrators, professors,
advisors, and mentors.

o Ten

questions were designed for use
with military veteran students.

Data Credibility
Member
Checking

Interviews

Surveys

TRIANGULATION
OF DATA

Data Categories
Categories

Word
Frequency

assistance

26

mentoring

20

resource center

14

training

12

community college experience

11

student success course

10

identification/ communication

10

The above categories were collapsed and formulated based on the number of
times each word presented via responses from all participants.

Participants and Related themes

Themes Created from Categories

Study Findings –
Theme 1: Academic Experience

Student Response – Suggested “top
down” approach for assisting veteran
students.

Advisor Response – The sample site
should provide veteran students with a
service opportunity, i.e. emergency
preparedness and response.

Study Findings –
Theme 2: Transition Assistance

 Student Response – Assistance needed with transition from

military to academics.
 Administrator Response – Veteran resource center at every

campus that would encompass a “one-stop shop” providing veteran
students information on civilian services, academic resources, and
programs where they can connect with other veteran students.
 Professor Response – Veteran

specific student success course;
Professors thought most military veteran students suffer from
PTSD.

 Advisors Response – Military veteran students are more mature

than traditional students; use their maturity in class.
 Mentor Response – Positive mentoring and tutoring would

provide academic assistance to military veteran students.

Study Findings –
Theme 3: Sensitivity Training
 Advisor and Administrator Response –

Faculty and staff training with a focus on
accommodations and needs of veteran students;
sensitivity training that would explain the value of
a veteran student.
 Administrator Response – Cross-train all

advisors to assist veteran students.
o As of spring 2013, only one full-time and one
part-time advisor provide services to 779
veteran students.

Research Question 1
How do military veteran students experience
community college?
Military Veteran Students’ Responses:
o

“Community college tuition was cheaper and the
campus is close to home.”

Administrators’, Professors’, Advisors’, and
Mentors’ Responses:
o
o

Courses are readily available that assist with job skills.
Veteran student’s personal persistency helps them adjust.

Research Question 2
What community college resources and services
do military veteran students perceive as beneficial
in meeting their financial, academic, social, and
professional needs?
Military Veteran Student Responses:
o

All ten veteran students affirmed they were unaware of
and uninformed of any specific academic resources or
services that would benefit these needs.

o

One veteran student stated there was a, “need for
transition efforts and programs that assist with
environmental adjustments in an academic setting.”

Research Question 3
What types of mentoring programs are currently in
existence for military veteran students at the
sample site?
Military Veteran Students’ Perspective:
o

Students did not know if a mentoring program could help
because there are no services offered.

Administrators’, Professors’, Advisors’, and
Mentors’ Perspectives:
o

No mentoring program existed for military veteran
students.

Research Question 4
What on-campus resources do community college
stakeholders (military veteran students, faculty,
administrators, and staff) perceive to be the major
facilitators of the retention of the military veteran
students?
All Responses:
o

No participant could relate a specific program, course, or
resource directly designed for military veteran students.

o

Student led clubs such as the Student Veterans Association
could help but participation has been an issue.

Research Question 5
How does mentoring impact military veteran students’:
a. adjustment to community college level study,
b. acquisition of relevant study skills, and
c. persistence in completing an associate degree?
Military Veteran Students’ Perspective:
oMentoring could provide assistance with transitioning
through the paperwork and “red tape” of receiving benefits.
Administrators’, Professors’, Advisors’, & Mentors’
Perspective:
oProgram that allows veterans to mentoring veterans because
these students speak the same language.

Literature Related to Findings
 Enlisted members state the opportunities to get

a college education as well as funds to pay for it
are the number one reason for joining the
armed forces (Snead & Baridon, 2010)
 43% of veteran students selected public, two-

year colleges (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2009)
 Community colleges are an attractive

educational option for veteran students because
of affordability (Snead & Baridon, 2010)

Literature Related to Findings
Wal-Mart Foundation awarded American Council on
Education $2.5 billion to support successful veteran
education programs (ACE, 2012)

To provide needed resources to expand and enhance existing
veteran services.
Nine community colleges received $100,000:
o
o
o
o

Formal mentoring program (LA City College);
Veteran’s Welcome Center (Southwestern College);
Lane Integration of Vets in Education (LIVE) (Lane Community
College) – first year experience/learning communities;
Project VETS (Veterans’ Educational Transition Services) (Trident
Technical College) – veterans specific orientation; faculty and staff
development, veteran’s task force and veteran students club.

Literature Related to Findings
2009

2012

Institutions with programs and
services or veteran students.

57%

62%

Institutions whose long term
strategic plan includes veteran
student programs.

57%

71%

Average enrollment of veteran
students per institution.

357

853

Institutions with dedicated office
for veteran students.

49%

71%

American Council on Education, 2012

Literature Related to Nationally Recognized
Need for Improvements
Assisting military students with their transition to the college
environment:
Only 22 % of postsecondary institutions with specific programs/services
for military students and veterans report providing transition assistance.
Providing professional development for faculty and staff on the
transitional needs of military students:
Approximately two out of five schools that serve military students and
veterans provide training opportunities for faculty and staff to assist
these students better with their transitional issues.
Operation College Promise, 2013

Literature Related to Nationally Recognized
Need for Improvements

Training staff to meet the needs of
military students with brain injuries
and other disabilities:
Twenty-three percent of colleges and
universities that serve military students and
veterans have staff specifically trained to assist
veterans with brain injuries, and 33 % have staff
trained specifically to assist veterans with other
physical disabilities.
Operation College Promise, 2013

Literature Related to Nationally Recognized Need for
Improvements

Streamlining campus administrative procedures for
veterans returning from military deployments:
Only 22 % of institutions with programs and services for military
personnel have developed an expedited re-enrollment process to
help students restart their academic efforts following a military
deployment or activation.
Providing opportunities for veterans to
connect with their peers:
Only 32 % of institutions with services for veterans and military
personnel have clubs or other organizations for these students.

Operation College Promise, 2013

Implications for Practices
Establish a method of identification of military veteran

students via online application this would provide a
means of data collection along with expediting benefits
processing.
Establish a college readiness/success course or workshop

geared to providing skills to veteran students transition
to academic settings.
Establish a veteran student to veteran student mentoring

program.
Provide sensitivity training for faculty, staff, and

administration on the value of a military veteran student.

Implications for Research
 Research on military veteran student transition

into higher education as a means of understanding
the needs of this special population.
 Research on the psychological differences of
veterans to assist in understanding PostTraumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain
Injury that would provide insight on how to
accommodate veteran students.
 Research on funding sources toward the
establishment of viable programming for military
veteran students at higher education institutions.

California State University, Fullerton
An

a
Ex

m

pl

e

Mentoring Veterans Program (MVP)

Purpose - to promote the academic and social integration
of veterans to the university.
 Recruitment of mentors from the student veteran
population:
 Mentors are required to attend orientation and
training sessions,
 A system of accountability for mentor and mentee,
and
 A one-semester program where mentor and mentee
meet once per week.
Veteran Student Services, 2011
vsstech@fullerton.edu

Summary
 There are limited resources at campuses

across the nation for military veteran
students’ successful acclimation to college
the environment.
 Military veteran students provided a service

to this country, it is now time for campuses
to return the favor by implementing and
creating programs that speak to the needs of
these students.

Thank You

“And so, my fellow
Americans: ask not what your
country can do for you – ask
what you can do for your
country.”
– President John F. Kennedy
January 20, 1961

References
 American Council on Education. (2012). From soldier to student II:

Assessing campus programs for veterans and service members.
Retrieved from
http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/documents/from-soldier-to-student
-II-assessing-campus-programs.pdf
 Operation Promise for Service Members. (2013). Operation college

promise in action. Retrieved from http
://www.operationpromiseforservicemembers.com /
 Ford, D. Northrup, P., & Wiley, L. (2009, Summer). Connections,

partnerships, opportunities, and programs to enhance success for
military students. Directions for Student Services, 61 – 69.
 National Institute of Mental Health. (2013). Transforming the

understanding and treatment of mental illness through research. PostTraumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-dis

References
Schlossberg, N. K., Waters, E. B., & Goodman, J. (1995).

Counseling adults in transition: Linking practice with theory (2nd
ed.). New York, NY: Springer.
Snead, K. & Baridon, A. (2010). Community college support and

engagement of service members, veterans, and military families.
Unpublished paper presented at The Whitehouse Summit on
Community Colleges, Washington, D.C. (www.ed.gov/collegecompletion/community-college-summit)
U.S. Department of Education. (2009). Issue tables: A profile of

military service members and veterans enrolled in postsecondary education in 2007-2008. National Center for
Education Statistics, 2009-182.