First steps to using your GI Bill.

Consider where you want to be. Transferring from military and civilian life can be a very stressful time. Where will you be most comfortable? The post 911 GI Bill is truly a wonderful deal and you should take full advantage of it. This document provides you with options and each service member should take some time to fully consider what it is they want to do. Would you be most comfortable around a favored duty station? Do you want to go back to your hometown to be amongst family? The first decision a service member needs to make is deciding where they want to begin their transition.

Once you have a location, you should then pick what type of program you wish to enter into. If your location is stateside, I strongly recommend that veterans who have been out of school for a while consider community college. While there are several accelerated programs that will take considerably less time than beginning with community college, I think the advantages of community college outweigh the slower pace. By attending a community college, veterans allow themselves the opportunity to adjust into academia in a supportive, instructive environment.

Talk with a counselor about your GI Bill Benefits and what some of your options are to find a good fit for you. There are many options available to make your plan a perfect fit for you. For instance, when I used my benefits under chapter 31, I was able to only use half of my monthly benefits at a time, allowing me more time to adjust and feel comfortable with higher education. I took my time in community college, attending from August 2000 to Dec 2003. I transferred to a non-profit private institution in Jan 2004 and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology on January 15, 2006. While it took me time, I feel I got a lot out of my education and graduated at a pace I was comfortable with and that allowed me to be successful. I also went on to receive a M.A. in Multicultural Counseling from a State University two years later, for that though I had to pay for on my own.

No matter what kind of institution/program you choose, if you haven’t been to school for a while, there a few things you should do.

1. Sign up for a study skills course. Most of these courses have a lot of information that will help you study more effectively, plan your schedules responsibly, and give you general information about being successful in college.

2. Network. Make friends in your classes, think battle buddy mindset. As time goes on, you will learn who’s squared away and who’s ate up. It is always beneficial to have a few people you can discuss new concepts with. Weren’t you paying attention in your study skills course?

3. Speak up! This isn’t the military and it is perfectly acceptable to have opinions and challenge information. Professors have varying personalities just like anyone else but generally speaking, if you respectfully challenge and question, they tend to see it as you being engaged with the material.

Author's Bio: 

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