Student-veterans perceptions of and experiences with veteran-specific support programs and services in a Texas community college

Date

2016-11-28

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Abstract

In response to the increased enrollments of veterans and their needs, community colleges have implemented veteran-specific support programs and services aimed at supporting their success. However, the efforts of the community college to support student-veterans may be impeded by student-veterans and their need for self-sufficiency and strategies they employ in the college environment. Considering the preceding, implemented veteran-specific community college support programs and services may not necessarily be relevant or efficacious in responding to the needs of student-veterans.

The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of student-veterans with veteran-specific community college support programs and services in the state of Texas. Of specific foci in this study were student-veterans’ perceptions of how support services and programs affect their academic achievement and social integration into college and what these student-veterans perceived were best practices of support that institutions should provide.

A qualitative methodology and collective case study research design were utilized to address the three research questions that guided this study. The study was framed by a conceptual framework based on Tinto’s 1975 student integration model. There were 10 student-veterans enrolled in a community college located in the central region of Texas who participated in the study. Data were collected through multiple avenues including semi-structured interviews, field notes, reflexive journaling and institutional documents. Open coding and the constant-comparative method were utilized to analyze the collected data. Strategies to ensure trustworthiness were incorporated throughout the research process.

The findings of the study illustrate that student-veterans recognize the implementation of veteran-specific support systems on their campus but note barriers in being able to access them. Other findings from the study indicate that implemented veteran-specific programs and services are not seen as efficacious in affecting student-veteran academic achievement or social integration. Further, findings from this study point to several best practices that can be implemented at the community college to better support student-veterans. Findings of this study lead to several implications for higher education practice, including the need to change the current paradigm of offered veteran-specific support programs and services.

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Keywords

Veterans, Student-veterans

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