Thanks to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, veterans are entering American colleges and universities in numbers not seen since World War II. Very few of today's veterans, however, attend our nation's most selective institutions. Military-connected students constitute about 5% of the total college-going population, but make up only 2% or less of the student body at Ivy League and Ivy Plus institutions. The purpose of this narrative study was to understand the experiences of these talented few student veterans, with a focus on undergraduates. The primary research questions were: 1) How do members of the current generation of veterans make the transition from the military to the Ivy League? 2) How are these veterans faring, academically and socially, in what is arguably the most challenging sector of higher education? A series of in-depth interviews with four veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines studying for undergraduate degrees at three different Ivy League schools was undertaken to address these questions. The resulting four biographies were interpreted using Vacchi and Berger's (2014) adaptation of Bronfenbrenner's (1989, 1995) ecological systems theory and from a life course perspective. Findings revealed that the veterans carefully planned their transition from the military to the academy, and eagerly sought and accepted transition support. Academically, the self-discipline learned in the military was most important to the four Ivy League student veterans' success. Social support from other veterans was also important, but to varying degrees. The four student veterans all shared insights gained from their military experience with civilian peers in Ivy League classrooms, though they disclosed their veteran status only selectively in social situations. These exchanges, formal and informal, were mutually beneficial. While some Ivy League institutions are taking steps to attract and better support military-connected students, from a public policy perspective, elite higher education is not doing enough to help close the civil-military gap in American society. To the extent that elite institutions cannot or will not accommodate more veterans as non-traditional undergraduates, a greater focus on ROTC programs could help achieve this goal, as could admitting more family members of long-serving military personnel.
|Advisor:||Harper, Shaun R.|
|Commitee:||Garland, Peter H., Rumann, Corey|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|Department:||Higher Education Management|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Higher Education Administration, Public policy, Military studies|
|Keywords:||Elite, Ivy league, Military, Veteran|
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