CCV Resource Advisor for Veterans Chara Vincelette stood before a whiteboard, facing the class: “What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a student?” The responses come quickly: “asking for help,” “not waiting to be told what to do,” “GI bill paperwork,” “study habits and time management skills,” “balancing personal, job, and college life: coping with friction at home.”
As Vincelette writes the list on the board the students nod in agreement. It is the final class of “Combat to Classroom,” a new one-credit seminar for veterans starting, or returning to, college after life in the military.
Designed to help veterans transition from the military to the classroom, students complete a weekly discussion question online and have four in-person class meetings throughout the semester. Course objectives include learning to navigate on-ground and online classroom settings; developing communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, and interpersonal skills; and developing strategies to cope with issues that veterans face when transitioning to civilian life. After a pilot course ran last February, the seminar was officially launched at two academic centers this fall: six veterans enrolled in the seminar at CCV-Rutland and 11 at CCV-St. Albans.
Vincelette notes that student veterans are less likely to complete a degree than their non-military counterparts, but studies show that colleges offering transition classes specifically for student veterans have higher sucess rates. This small seminar (classes are limited to 15) helps returning veterans identify potential roadblocks to their success and develop strategies to address them.
When asked to reflect on their experiences so far, CCV-Rutland student Colette Parot described struggling to walk into CCV, already days late for registration. “I knew I had to take action—it was a now or never moment,” she said. “I wanted to make this transition positively, and I had GI benefits. This course has really helped,” she adds. “Just being able to talk about the struggle, realizing that you’re going to struggle. Now, every day I walk out with more knowledge, I’m learning a better way to teach myself.”
Enhanced services for military veterans at CCV are funded by the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation, Bari and Peter Dreissigacker, and the Vermont Community Foundation.