Veterans' college choices: A process of stratification and social reproduction
AuthorMcNealy, Tara E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractCollege choice is a socially constructed process that shapes individuals' educational and occupational mobility, resulting in a reproduction of the existing societal class structure. The complexity of the college choice process is especially apparent among the veteran population where most prospective college students belong to lower socioeconomic statuses, participate in military and working class socialization, and are impacted by organizational habitus. A considerable number of veterans transition from the military each year, eligible for significant educational benefits, yet an examination of their college choices is absent from the current literature on institutional choice. In an attempt to gain insight regarding veterans' college choices, this study aims to answer the following research questions: (1) Do veterans intend to utilize their G.I. Bill benefits when they separate from the military and what factors influence their intentions? (2) What type of institutions do veterans plan to attend and what are the major factors that influence their choices? (3) What types of messages do veterans receive about attending higher education? A total of 30 enlisted veterans transitioning from one U.S. Army installation and 12 educational counselors, education officials, Veteran's Administration representatives, and Army officials were interviewed. The vast majority of veterans interviewed in this study stated an intention to enroll in a community college rather than a four-year institution. Veterans acknowledged two salient reasons for selecting to attend a community college: the perception of financial resources and ability to bank extra financial resources. The research data also indicates that veterans are heavily socialized regarding the value of higher education and institutional selection by military supervisors and education officials who encourage the development of practical skill, focus on the collection of miscellaneous credit hours for the promotion point system rather than actual degree attainment, and encourage community college attendance. Based on the research data, the following recommendations are made: (1) Educate veterans and education officials about the structure of the higher education system including types of degrees, how to utilize educational benefits, and outcome differences between community colleges and four-year institutions . (2) Refine the Army's current promotion system to emphasize and reward degree completion.
Degree ProgramGraduate College