Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Mary E. Batiuk

Abstract

The number of recent U.S. military veterans attending college has increased due to the Veterans Education Assistance Act; however, retention and graduation rates for this population have declined. The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify the experiences and academic needs of recent military veterans as they transition from the military to academic life at a for-profit, proprietary college. In addition, this study identified differences in the problems faced by male and female veterans and explored whether veterans understood the resources available to them as they enrolled in higher education. Schlossberg's transitional theory was the conceptual framework used in this ethnographic case study. Eight female and 8 male military veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan war were selected for focused interviews through purposeful sampling. The results of the study indicated that regardless of gender, military veteran students at the local college needed time management skills, help with medical and social issues, and career development. While the college was perceived as student centered, another emergent theme was ineffective classroom management. A 3-day professional development program was designed for faculty and staff in order to increase their knowledge of the challenges faced by veterans in transition and to help military veteran students achieve academic success. Future research could expand the numbers of colleges and students represented in the study. This study promotes positive social change by providing higher education faculty members the results of the study so that they can apply the findings in amending current teaching strategies in an effort to provide a comprehensive learning environment for military veteran student.