In the first week of February 2011, Military MBA had the opportunity to take part in a roundtable discussion with several military students currently enrolled in graduate study programs. Listed below are some observations we would like to share with you to improve your base of knowledge on MBA education and careers.
Observation 1: More military students will continue enrolling in grad school.
With multiple drivers in play such as sizeable education resources of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military downsizing, high civilian unemployment and colleges accepting more military students participants look for this trend to grow and multiply. These developments combine with a consensus among military students that college is more of an ideal environment for officers and personnel leaving the military. Most former military and reservists felt continuing education within a campus environment suited military personnel better than direct transition to civilian life and employment.
Observation 2: Military student select schools who know how to integrate veterans.
Focus group participants felt an expanding market of military students was creating three types of colleges:
Category 1- Schools who sit idle and practice passive acceptance of military students. These schools should be avoided at all costs.
Category 2- Schools who aspire to become "military friendly" by spending more and adopting best practices. Most of these schools say the right things and are seen in "military friendly" publications and on websites. Participants emphasized that other military students should use caution because these schools overpromise and under deliver. Their execution is lacking because deep down they neither understand military students nor know how to educate and serve them properly.
Category 3- Focus group participants felt the best schools had figured out how to go beyond welcoming military students by recognizing their unique situations and leveraging their strengths with new opportunities to grow.
Observation 3: Reserves on the rise.
The reserve segment of military student population is gain momentum and energy. The first year of the Post-9/11 GI Bill essentially forgot about the educational needs of most reservists. The Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, approved late last year with the help of organizations such as IAVA, expands education benefits for the reserves.
Observation 4: VA is doing its job.
Administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill by the Department of Veterans Affairs is improving. Paperwork bottlenecks are subsiding and payment delays look to be a relic of the past. Overall fulfillments on student enrollments are moving from months to weeks. Credit goes to the VA for improved efficiencies.
Yellow Ribbon Program Update
The VA will start accepting agreements for the 2011-2012 Yellow Ribbon Program from schools on February 23, 2011. New data on additional tuition benefits available for veterans attending graduate school and private institutions or paying out-of-state tuition should be posted on VA’s website by April.