Remember the Adam Sandler movie “Billy Madison” where he has to go back through kindergarten all the way through high school or else he wouldn’t inherit his dad’s business? It’s easy to feel like Billy when you’ve spent years in the military and you’re getting out without a college degree.
The national average of American adults with college degrees is somewhere between 22%-26% depending on the source, and in our database, where over 233,000 of those who indicated education levels, 17% of veterans have bachelor’s degrees. This puts veterans at 5%-9% lower than the average American. This number can be expected to see a surge as more and more veterans are going back to school under the provision of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. According to an article put out by the Department of Defense (click here to read the article), over 260,000 veterans were attending over 6,000 colleges and universities under the Post 9/11 GI Bill in the fall semester of 2010. Accordingly colleges and universities around the country are working hard to be as veteran friendly as possible.
Xavier University, the sponsor of all our Cincinnati, OH Opportunity Expos last year and this year, is among the most veteran friendly universities you can find. Maybe I’m a little biased because I enrolled and attended Xavier after I left active duty in the summer of 2009, but they really worked hard to get me enrolled and made sure I was on track to graduate and to succeed. I graduate the first week of May- the next four weeks can’t go by fast enough!!! I was just talking to my dad about this today and he told me how proud of me he was for staying the course and going back to college. It felt good to hear him say that. It wasn’t an easy choice, but I guess I didn’t really view it as a choice.
Going back to school, for me anyways, felt like a training cycle in the Army, but one where the rewards far out-pace the investment. Short term pain for long term gain. There’s not one person in the military who skipped basic training or boot camp and whatever MOS-related training and just showed up at whatever unit ready to be the best, much less a leader. College is the same way. I know it doesn’t sound like much fun to be graduating at the ripe age of thirty, I know, that’s the boat I was in. I used to really hate it, but now it’s fun and I just tell everyone I’ve been on the twelve year college program.
The reason I went back to school was simply dollars and cents and common sense. College graduates earn $2.1 million over the course of their lifetime; those with master’s degrees earn $2.4 million. Compare that to the $1.2 million those with high school degrees earn on average. Most of us have that option to go back to school now. The fact that I can make almost a million dollars more over the course of my life by taking 20 months out and going back to school? I applied the same work ethic I had in the military and took to school as a job. If you haven’t considered going back to school I encourage you to do so. Take a look at where you want to be when you get out of the service and check out the schools in your area. The VA makes it really user-friendly to find a good school, and there are schools out there like Xavier University who work overtime to make sure you’ve got a place to belong to and to train and prepare for the next phase of your life.
Having your college degree in support of your military experiences will set you out in front of your colleagues by leaps and bounds. A college degree, just like your military service, is an accomplishment that you’ll be proud of and nobody can ever take away from you.