Veterans and Student Engagement

Inside Higher Ed has an interesting story regarding the first-time inclusion of veterans in the annual National Survey of Student Engagement. The conclusions? Vets are less “engaged” on campus than the average student, are older (that’s hardly surprising; they’ve been busy), and spend more time working or caring for dependents, but are just as satisfied with their campus experience as other students.  

I’ve kept up with my friends from Iraq who are taking advantage of the incredibly generous post-9/11 G.I. Bill, and the survey seems to track their experience. Campus life generally doesn’t interest them (in fact, many of them find classroom discussions and campus life almost painfully detached from reality), but the education does, and they’re very pleased to be in school.  

One quote, however, stood out from the rest of the story:

“I am not surprised by the findings as they are consistent with what veterans have shared with us in detailing their experiences on campus,” said James Selbe, assistant vice president of lifelong learning at the American Council on Education. “I applaud the authors for encouraging institutions to more effectively engage student veterans in effective educational practices and provide them with supportive environments. This is especially important for first-time, first generation student veterans who are coming from a military environment where learning is focused not on engagement but on demonstrating specific competencies.”

University learning isn’t focused on “demonstrating specific competencies”? In the hard sciences and most professions, I’d have to disagree. In fact, the military’s focus on “demonstrating specific competencies” is perfect preparation for a student seeking a degree in engineering, information technology, medicine, physics, math, or other similar fields.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More