The Student Veterans of America Organization at Southside Virginia Community College attended the "Student Voices Session" with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on July 22nd at the Department of Education headquarters. The topic of the meeting was to focus on “The 8 Keys to Veterans' Success”, which is a voluntary initiative through the Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs.
Fewer than 10 schools nationwide were invited to participate in this event. The SVCC group had the opportunity and privilege to represent community college students across our nation.
Duncan said that with the more than 250 institutions leading the way, the “8 Keys to Success” can aid Veterans in their effort to afford and complete their college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials and licenses in preparation for jobs in high-growth sectors of the economy.
“This is a major step forward in the administration’s work to encourage institutions of higher education to support Veterans with access to the courses and resources they need to ensure that they graduate and get good jobs,” said Duncan.
The “8 Keys to Success” include the following:
1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for Veterans.
2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all Veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all Veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size).
5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for Veterans.
6. Use a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on Veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion.
7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to Veterans.
8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for Veterans.
More than 250 community colleges and universities in 24 different states and D.C. will fully adopt the “8 Keys to Success” and more are expected to rise to the challenge in the coming months.