SLU aims to increase number of military veteran students on campus

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Veterans are not often seen in Saint Louis University classrooms, and the Division of Enrollment Management and Retention is attempting to bridge that gap.

“We believe that…any individual willing to serve in the nation’s military service deserves the opportunity to earn a degree at a top-tier university,” Vice President of Enrollment Management and Retention Jay Goff said, “and we want to find ways to expand those opportunities.”

Caroline Rutledge, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, agreed.

“As a student who has been fortunate to have several class with veterans, I am ecstatic SLU will be pushing to accept more veterans,” she said.

SLU wants bring the number of military-affiliated students from its current number of about 180 to 5 to 10 percent of the total student population by 2018.

Currently, SLU has 162 students receiving military benefits, including 113 undergraduates and 49 post-baccalaureate students.

Online courses are more popular for veterans. As many of them are older than traditional students, the online courses provide a way for them to work on their degree when they have families or are working part-time.

One of these degree programs is aviation maintenance, a collaboration between Parks College and the School for Professional Studies.

SLU is also looking to bring on a new program director for military students.

They would prefer to hire a veteran from a military background.

This director would coordinate the various resources available to military veteran students.

Some of the resources that SLU is looking to add include academic support and programs for faculty to discuss methods of teaching that are more advantageous for military students.

 

“[We want] to train faculty when you have a veteran military student sitting in your classroom about the things that can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder and to help them understand and help these students be successful,” said Bridget DeClue, director of enrollment outreach. “Our ultimate goal is that military veterans that come to SLU will succeed.”

Another concern is disability support.

“A lot of these soldiers are returning from these battlefields with handicaps: loss of limbs, loss of hearing, loss of sight, PTSD,” DeClue said. “We’d like to see that program director serve as a single point of contact for our military students and prospective students. If you’re trying to apply for admission from some battlefield or some station over in Afghanistan, your timing is off, [so we want] to make that process easier for them.”

Another way they want to facilitate military students finding SLU is by building a more robust and military-friendly site. Veterans are also great for SLU because of their fit with the SLU mission.

“They’re generally mature beyond their years, given their unique background. They bring diversity and strength to teams and problem solving, they respect procedures and authority, [they] perform under pressure, [they] have a good work ethic [and they] are grounded in core values,” DeClue said.

Rutledge desires veteran voices to aid in the classroom environment.

“They add a unique perspective to classroom discussions, not to mention it is an honor to know SLU is stepping up to the plate to help those who have given so much in service of our country,” she said.

SLU also is great for veterans because of its mission. “It’s the men and women for others,” DeClue said. “They’re not only serving those that they’re fighting battle with, but also protecting our country.”