Todd K. Schilling



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Public and private institutions have seen one of the greatest influxes of veterans using their veteran benefits since World War II (DiRamio & Jarvis, 2011). Veterans enter higher education with a diverse, individualistic background and experience, and encounter a number of issues that traditional students do not experience. The purpose of this study was to explore the various ways that veterans' transition into higher education, as well as their ability to make meaning of their military experience. The research questions guiding this study were: (a) what are the identity crises and transitions that veterans experience when enrolling in college; (b) how do veterans make meaning of their military experience and use it in their new role as a student? The participants in this study consisted of veterans of the United States Military currently attending college. In one hour semi-structured interviews, participants shared their military background as well as their experiences in higher education. Participants also reflected on their military experiences and how they led them to their current role as students. Findings suggested that veterans experience college differently than the traditional student and feel that, due to their military experience, they have a different understanding and appreciation for higher education. Higher education professionals working with veterans may benefit from the study results because it provides a first-hand insight into personal experiences of veterans. They will be able to understand the difficulty of their transition and explore new practices to better serve this unique category of students.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Nasser Razek

Primary Advisor's Department

Counselor Education and Human Services


Stander Symposium project, student affairs, School of Education and Health Sciences

Bridging the Gap: Identity Crises and Self-Authorship of Veterans in Higher Education