12 August 2014

The GI Bill: Next Steps, Picking the Right School Pt. 2


We have discussed why you should go back to school and how you can go back to school. Now comes the fun part…picking what school to go to. There are a lot of factors when it comes to picking a school from private to state school, to where you should live and most importantly deciding what area of study you want to focus on.

Here are some questions to think about:

What are your Interests: Picking a major can be tough when there is so much to choose from! Don’t be afraid to branch out with your general requirement classes, you can always double minor or even double major. Make sure whatever you choose interests you and can be incorporated into your future career. Want to see what your expected job prospects are for your field? Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Where to Live: You will get a monthly stipend for housing but here are points to consider when are choosing your school in regards to living. The BAH (monthly stipend) is based on where your school is and not where you are living. You can go to school in the city but live in the suburbs where it is cheaper. At the same time, don’t forget about living expenses such as utilities, which might not be included in rent and even everyday essentials like gas and groceries, which can really make a difference when it comes to your budget.

What Type of School: You have three options for schools: community, state, or private. Community colleges are financially less taxing and conducive for commuters and offer flexible schedules but aren’t known for having a very active campus life. State schools are great in that they offer wide variety in different classes. State schools have an extensive campus life but sometimes can have such a large student population (and campus) that it can be overwhelming. Private schools offer a unique experience and are very hands on and education driven. As with state schools, there is an extensive campus life but private schools have the highest tuition rates of all three.

What Veteran Support: Over 3,500 institutions have agreed to follow the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Principles of Excellence program, which creates a point of contact for veterans to help with academic and financial counseling. Other things to check for are:
·      Transfer credits from your military training: Your school should recognize your past training and will often allow some of it as transfer credit.
·      Campus and community service: Make sure there is access for mental and medical support, disability service, and academic accommodations.
·      Veteran presence: Find an administration that listens and involves veterans and that there is established veteran programs, such as Student Veterans of America.

What are some of the best schools to use your GI benefits? How did you decide what school was best for you?

Check out some of RallyPoint members’ suggestions here and connect within the military community.

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