Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How military service affects student veteran success at community colleges
by O'Rourke, Patrick C., Jr., Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2013, 200; 3585006
Abstract (Summary)

Increasingly more service members are separating from the military as the United States draws down the force and moves towards a post-war era. Tens of thousands of these veterans will leverage their GI Bill tuition and housing benefits in an attempt to access Southern California community colleges and bolster their transition into mainstream society. Some of these men and women have served multiple tours in combat zones and carry with them the burden of physical and mental injuries. After 4 years of GI Bill benefits costing over $20 billion and supporting 750,000 veterans or their dependents, it is unclear whether these veterans have been successful in higher education. This study starts the dialogue for further quantitative research on this diverse population.

Using quantitative methodologies based on a nontraditional student attrition model, 261 student veterans at three Southern California community colleges were surveyed to determine how military service affects their persistence. Background variables, academic and social integration, psychological outcomes, and military service perspective as related to student veterans' intent to persist, college GPA, and rate of attendance formed the framework for research. Findings show that student veterans' intent to continue their educational goals is affected by their military service perspective. Military service is a significant intervening variable that distinguishes veterans from other nontraditional students at community colleges. Military GPA was found to have a stronger association with college GPA than high school GPA. Although academic integration was the strongest predictor of college GPA, the most successful student veterans balance their work, family, and academic lives. Although some findings relate closely to existing higher education literature, the experience and perspective of military service produces both advantages and disadvantages for veterans in college. Accounting for veterans' persistence and acknowledging their diversity are measures which will strengthen their chances for academic success. Recommendations for policy, practice, and future research are addressed in this study.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Murray, John P.
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Community college education, Adult education, Military studies
Keywords: Attrition, Community college, Intention to persist, Military, Persistence, Student-veteran, Veterans affairs
Publication Number: 3585006
ISBN: 978-1-303-76555-1
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