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Tips for Transitioning from the Military to College

by South University
September 21, 2018
A photo of South University faculty member teaching a college course.

After leaving the military, earning a degree is a strategic way to prepare you for your next career move. Of course, any transition this big involves a lot of questions and decisions, so we’ve compiled a few tips that can help along the way.

1. Pick a program and learning style that’s right for you.

Look for a program that matches your interests and strengths while also preparing you to achieve your professional goals. If you're considering multiple programs, reflect on what you liked most about your military career. What civilian careers offer those same aspects? To help you decide, ask schools for details on program curriculum and outcomes.

If you need to balance school with family and work obligations, choose a program where that’s possible—whether that means learning 100% online, taking evening classes on campus, or perhaps mixing both online and campus-based learning. Whatever you do, remember that your military benefits are limited. Make the most of them by choosing a program you’ll stick with.

2. Discuss your military benefits with financial aid representatives.

Once you’ve researched schools and programs, be sure you understand your military education benefits and the availability of any additional military scholarships.

At South University, our financial aid officers will guide you through the financial aid process and exploring your options. When discussing your benefits, ask questions and pay attention to the details, including payment limitations and timing. If a school isn’t experienced in working with military students and veterans or their military benefits, then that school may not be right for you.

A photo of South University student studying at a computer.3. Ask about transfer and experience credits.

Veterans bring invaluable experience to the classroom and your school should recognize that. Look for a university that will evaluate your Joint Service Transcript or corresponding official service transcript to determine if you can receive college level credit for your prior learning and military training courses. South University also recognizes credit from non-traditional educational sources such as College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) exams. Taking advantage of such opportunities can save you time and money.

4. Create a plan for your success.

You’re used to direction and structure from the military, and now you need to create that structure for yourself. Give yourself deadlines for making progress on course assignments and follow a regular schedule for studying and doing coursework. Success starts with making a plan and sticking to it.

5. Get help when you need it.

In the military, you knew you could count on the people around you. You were part of a team working together with one goal. The same is true in school. Your success is the mission, and, at South University, you’ll be surrounded by people ready to support you, from tutoring to academic advising to helping you navigate library resources in person or online. As you approach graduation, career services can also to help you find and pursue positions that match your goals.

Remember, learning in the classroom, online or in person, will be a different experience than learning in the military. That’s okay. No one expects you to excel at everything or go at it alone. Help is available; all you have to do is ask.

6. Don't neglect your physical and mental health.

Leaving the military is a challenging transition, no matter what you're planning to do next. To minimize your stress levels as a student, always leave room in your daily routine for taking care of yourself! Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right will help you stay at the top of your game in and outside of the classroom. We also encourage all veterans to explore the mental health resources available through their local Department of Veteran Affairs.

A photo of South University student studying at a computer.7. Connect with others who’ve been in your shoes.

Look for and get to know other veterans at your school from the start. The Student Veterans of America is also a great resource. In both instances, you’ll find other veterans who understand your struggles and successes and who may have advice to help with the transition. Whether you attend South University classes online or on campus, know that you’ll have many ways to connect with classmates with shared interests and talk outside the classroom.

8. Get involved with student life.

Student veteran organizations are a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Even if you’re nervous you might not belong, push yourself to join student groups and participate in school activities. Soon, you’ll realize how many people also feel out of their comfort zone. At South University, our diverse student body includes many adult learners, with a variety of life experiences, who are going to college for the first time or returning after many years away. Befriending your college peers can give you a sense of community, and you'll gain more people to check in on you, encourage you, and talk to about your schoolwork or your goals.

To talk with the military admissions specialists at South University, call 1-800-688-0932 or request information online.

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Practical Study Tips for College Students from South University Faculty & Staff

by South University
September 7, 2018
A photo of South University medical assisting student studying at a computer.

When you start classes, it’s normal to be nervous about how to study for a test or fit coursework into your daily life. Whether you’ve been out of school for years or you’re just unsure about beginning a new program, we’re here for you. To help you build good study habits, we’ve compiled our favorite study tips for college classes provided by South University faculty and staff, including:

  • Mark Fabbri, PhD, Online Programs, Psychology Chair
  • Alexandra Young, Academic Manager
  • Rachel Mitchell, MLIS, Director of Online Library Services

A photo of South University, Online Programs student studying at a computer. 1. Carve out time for studying in your day.

Mark Fabbri, our Online Programs Psychology Chair explains, "Finding time can be the greatest challenge to studying. We all have busy lives and sometimes putting studying on top of the list is difficult."

To address this problem, use a journal to track how you spend your day, noting when you’re doing something valuable versus simply passing time—but don’t count all down time as wasted. For example, Fabbri prioritizes playing Minecraft in the evenings because it’s his way to relax.

"I also have a grandchild to watch, parents to care for, my daughter's new novel to proofread, and I need to somewhere find the time to work and exercise," says Fabbri, who is currently working on adding another degree to his extensive credentials. "By looking at what I do daily, I was able to block out 1 to 2 hours a day to read and study early in the morning when I first get up. That also seems to be when I am most alert for studying. Everyone is different, but the key is finding the best time to study for your own schedule."

2. Be smart about the places you study.

Fabbri asserts that where you study is equally as important as when. "Removing distractions so you can focus on reading your text or articles needs to be a priority," he says.

Don't study in front of the TV or somewhere your children or housemates will distract you. Quiet libraries are often among the best places to study, as are coffee shops. If you study at home, play white noise or classical music (some of the best music for studying) to drown out distracting noises.

3. Make your study habits routine.

"Consistency is critical to success," says Alexandra Young, an Academic Manager at South University. "Do your school work at the same time and in the same place every day to start forming good study habits."

To stay on track, set regular reminders through South University"s online learning platform Brightspace or mark time off for repeat tasks on a physical calendar or agenda. Just remember—creating a routine isn’t easy. If you slip up, don’t feel guilty. Recommit to your routine the very next day. “It can take months for good study habits to stick," Young says.

A photo of South University, Online Programs student studying at a computer. 4. Study in short bursts.

Cramming in all your studying at once is not effective. "You will learn the material for your assignment then forget it,” says Young. It’s also not the best way to study for a test, as you might forget what you studied by the time the test is in front of you.

Young advises studying for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and then taking a 5-minute break, repeating this process 1 to 2 hours a day. "Set a timer for studying. Stay focused and don’t check your phone. If you struggle with getting distracted, use software or apps to block extraneous websites for set times," says Young. "During your break, stand up, walk away, and give your mind a chance to rest."

5. Plan ahead and start early.

Planning ahead leaves room for surprises, says Director of Online Library Services, Rachel Mitchell. "Waiting until the last minute depletes any margin you might need due to technical issues or unexpected circumstances," she says. "It's possible you'll need clarification on an assignment or reading. When you procrastinate, there's no time left to hear back from an instructor, colleague, or tutor."

Mitchell suggests noting important course dates in your calendar and setting deadlines for yourself ahead of those dates to give yourself that extra wiggle room. She also likes psychologist Tamar Chansky's recommendation to "set up the launch pad and walk away." The idea is that if you set yourself up for a task beforehand, you're less likely to procrastinate later. "Before your study session, get out your computer, pen, paper, whatever you need," says Mitchell. "Take a quick break and then come back to everything all set up and ready to go."

6. Ask for help.

Admitting you don't know something can feel intimidating, but South University makes so many resources available to you--including tutoring, the library, instructors, and writing centers.

"As soon as you have a question, reach out! Asking saves you time and energy," says Mitchell.

"If you’re unsure about an assignment, contact your instructor right away. Anytime you need help with research, citations, or finding information on a topic, contact the library. We are here to help!"

Young agrees, adding that Admissions Representatives and Academic Counselors can also help with questions about how to study in college. "If your graduation team knows your concerns, they will be better equipped to point you in the right direction."

Get moving on your academic success!

Students can find contact information in the Campus Common for their Admissions and Academic support teams, instructors, campus or online libraries, and other resources that can help you build your college study skills.

If you’re interested in learning about South University and our programs, request information or call 1.800.688.0932 today!

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