As John French understands, the transition from military to civilian life is challenging. The Van Loan School at Endicott College recruiter and advisor for military students experienced this firsthand when he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2011 after being deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom III and V.
Gone were the days when he worked as a patrol gunner and combat lifesaver in Baghdad Center, as well as his role in building an outpost to stop insurgents. His daily life no longer involved being responsible for his fellow soldiers. He needed to find a new passion, something that would fuel him as a civilian. And that’s why he went back to school.
Now, with an associate and bachelor’s degree in hand, French recently joined Endicott, where he’s providing “the best support and guidance I can to each student in hopes that they will be able to see that achieving success in the transition to civilian life is attainable.”
French is part of a culture at Endicott that is welcoming and accommodating for military and veterans. We are proud to be ranked in the top 10 for Best Colleges for Veterans Regional Universities North by U.S. News & World Report. The College’s priority is to make G.I. benefits, housing allowance, and financial support easy to navigate while meeting your needs and lifestyle with a flexible format at all levels. Support systems are also in place with the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program, Stars Curriculum, and personalized advising.
"Endicott is a community of inclusion; we want to provide educational opportunities for everyone. In this way, we are committed to creating opportunities for veteran students."
As Military Appreciation Month comes to a close, we asked French a few questions about what makes Endicott a great fit for soldiers transitioning into civilian life. Here’s what he had to say.
What are some of the common concerns you hear from former and active service members as it relates to beginning or returning to their academic studies?
Most veterans and active duty service members integrating back into the academic world are nervous about being able to keep up with the coursework, i.e. writing papers, reading assignments. Veterans and active duty members all have the advantage of overcoming these nervous issues. They all have discipline and work ethic. We are here to guide them through the tough areas and give them the best path to individual academic success. They're concerned about being in class with young students and all civilian students, but our classes have a mixed group of ages, including other active duty and veteran students. They're also under the impression sometimes that they're previous military training doesn't "count" for anything in the classroom; they can not only transfer credit from their military service (JST) but they already bring incredible leadership skills and other skills from their training into the classroom community.
In what ways are active military and veterans supported and educated during their admission and financial aid process?
They work with an academic advisor to get connected with school resources (academic support, counseling center, and career center) and with financial aid information should they choose to use it. Most military students rely on their benefits but they are still welcome and encouraged to apply for financial aid, and this information should be provided to them by their advisor. Another admission support is that our application fee is waived for all military personnel, and the tuition rate has been adjusted for all military students using benefits so that they pay a military tuition rate of $750 per class/$250 per credit.
How has Endicott created innovative, relevant, and attractive academic programming for active military and veterans to maximize their skills and career goals?
We have one course on campus that is offered as a transitional course for veteran students. We employ a number of veteran adjunct faculty members as well as a number of adjunct faculty with experience in federal work as a way to further encourage engagement between faculty and students around military student issues, current global affairs, and to create a greater network for our students to tap into this side of the workforce. We have integrated a career transitions course into our bachelor’s degree curriculum for all students; this provides a practical course through which military students can explore their options of researching and pursuing new career opportunities while relying on their military training and experience. Our offsite locations provide opportunities for military students to learn in an environment that is already familiar to them and among their peers. These sites are only accessible to those with federal or military identifications. Our homeland security concentration has been of great interest for our military population as much of their military training is relative to the curriculum.
How does Endicott’s faculty and staff assist former service members during their academic journey to ensure success and career outcomes?
We partner with the Bedford VA VITAL team to further encourage students to connect with the VA. Academic advisors work with students to assist in setting them up with a schedule that is both beneficial to their academic goals and aligns with the requirements of their military benefits. We highly encourage students to connect with the Internship & Career Center—and to seek out the mentorship of their professors—to start exploring career options for when they graduate. We have a close relationship with the Veteran Center at North Shore Community College (NSCC) and keep our students aware of other job-related events hosted by NSCC that are open to all military students. We have incorporated a veteran initiative into the career fair held by Endicott every year; this past year we marked all tables with an American flag that were "veteran friendly" or specifically looking to hire veterans for their company. We are members of the Student Veterans of America and have a Veterans Club at Endicott College. The Veterans Club sponsors two events a year—this year, we sponsored a service dog event and Heroes Among Us.
What kind of postgraduate success have you seen from active military and veterans who have come through Endicott’s academic programming?
We have a number of graduates who have gone on to graduate programs, including the Van Loan School at Endicott College. We also have a few veteran graduates who have expressed sincere interest in joining the Gull2Gull Mentoring Program to connect with and mentor current military students at Endicott. This past year at our Heroes Among Us student veteran panel, we had two Van Loan undergraduate alumni speak about their experience here as an encouragement to current and future students.
At its core, why does Endicott hold great value in providing an academic path for active service members and veterans?
Endicott is a community of inclusion; we want to provide educational opportunities for everyone. In this way, we are committed to creating opportunities for veteran students, like accepting their military training as transfer credit toward their degrees. Additionally, we are committed to bringing military student voices and experiences into the classroom for the enrichment of civilian students' experiences. By creating space for all of these students and all of their experiences, we are creating a richer and more diverse community of learners.
Learn more about admission considerations for military and veteran students at vanloan.endicott.edu.