Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


Over the last several years, the number of veterans returning to college campuses has steadily increased. Many veterans are taking advantage of education benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and have been out of school for a number of years. A number of veterans are considered nontraditional students, and the responsibilities of being a parent, an employee, a husband or wife, and college student can be overwhelming. In recent years, the economic recession has also added financial hardships to the already full agenda of many of these students. Throughout the nation, colleges have created programs that will assist students in the transition to college life through a freshmen orientation course, but many of these schools simply are not prepared for the increase in veteran students and the demands that come with making the transition from solider to civilian. Veterans Affairs clinics attempt to counsel recently released veterans with the issues associated with combat, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other disabilities that developed as a result of service in a designated combat zone. But the reality is that many of the soldiers simply do not have the time or means to complete rehabilitation programs. Therefore, there are a number of veterans who are returning to college campuses with a range of untreated disabilities.

This project aims to explore the needs of veteran and other nontraditional students through research, case studies, and other data available on the subject of veterans, nontraditional students, and the effectiveness of a first year experience college course. By using a freshmen orientation course, colleges are able to provide tools to promote a rewarding personal and educational experience. Many first year experience courses cover topics that include study skills, time management, note taking, communication, test taking, and money management. The project concludes by proposing a veteran-specific first year experience course curriculum that will tailor the traditional topics of the course to meet the needs of new veteran students. Additional subjects that are addressed in this proposal include stress management, team building exercises, career assessment, veteran resources, and resume writing. This type of pilot program can be used to help prepare colleges for the new generation of nontraditional students and provide opportunities to promote successful completion of education objectives and life beyond the college experience.