This post is published as a Web extension of our August 2012 Education Issue – our annual blow-out of all things educational. To read it in full, visit our e-store to purchase a copy or subscription.
By Kelli Bennett, Editorial Intern
The disheartening statistics forwarded by the University of Colorado Denver, which show an estimated 88 percent of military veterans drop out of college during their first year, illustrates that college administrators have more work to do. While skeptics blame this dropout rate on troop’s mental state, others are speaking out and blaming this occurrence on the vast life-experience divide.
Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America, also believes the detrimental life gap to be the cause. “Mix in the fat gap of time between the vets’ high school days and their attempts to blend into college life and the reasons for the dropout rate become even more obvious,” he said in a MSNBC interview.
I have seen this divide first hand at my university with veteran and other non-traditional students. As humans we are drawn towards commonalities we share with others; it is not deliberate at all. Connections are made between students as they share weekend plans and extracurricular activities; but the majority of the veterans and non-traditional students do not share these same plans or interests due to other responsibilities and experiences.
Waste of Money?
While the increasing dropout rate is a concern, some tax payers are worried that the money given to veterans for tuition is going to waste. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, activated in July of 2008, covers up to 100 percent of veteran tuition or fees.
According to ArmyTimes.com, more than 745,000 Iraq and Afghanistan-era combat veterans or their dependents have used the program since its launch. If this number is not proof that the funds are needed, I am not sure what is. I believe that instead of focusing on taking money away from the veterans we need to devise a plan that will eliminate the life-experience divide.