Student veterans returning to a community college: Understanding their transitions
Higher education and the military have been linked throughout history in the United States. Now, with the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the higher education community is beginning to realize again the importance of understanding student veterans' transition experiences into college and providing appropriate support programs. However, the experiences of war veterans making the transition from servicemember to college student are not clearly understood. Consequently, community colleges and other institutions of higher education may not possess the information necessary to assist these students effectively.
The purpose of this phenomenological, qualitative research study was to explore the nature of the transition experiences of student war veterans who had re-enrolled in a community college following military deployments. Using Schlossberg's Theory of Transition (Goodman, Schlossberg, & Anderson, 2006) as the theoretical framework and a three-interview series (Seidman, 2006) as the primary method of data collection, four themes characterized participants' transition experiences: (a) negotiating the transition, (b) interactions and connections with others, (c) increased maturity and changes in perspective, and (d) re-situating and negotiating identities. These findings could be used to help community colleges and other institutions of higher education to understand more clearly the experiences of student veterans. They could also help to inform student affairs professionals, administrators, and faculty as they make policy and programming decisions related to student veteran populations.