An Introduction to Veteran & Military Student Programs
Here at CU Denver, we take pride in providing our military men and women with a quality education catered toward their distinct needs. Our mission is to create a positive transition and support programs for student service members, veterans, and their families in order to support their transition into academics, increase their graduation success rate, and assist them in achieving placement in their chosen career field following graduation.
“The Veteran & Military Student Services (VMSS) office is there to help veteran students transition from military to college, and succeed in whatever path that individual takes.” explained Junior Biology/Pre-med major, Kevin Bolser. “If a person is active in the office or associated programs it allows them to help other veterans succeed but it also gives them different experiences, friends, and perspectives that they otherwise may not have.”
CU Denver has appeared on the G.I. Jobs “Military Friendly Schools” List multiple times, ranking well because of its focus on employment support, transition and redeployment assistance, counseling referrals, and educational benefit certification. For example, Michael Chadwick is pursuing his second master’s degree at CU Denver and initially chose the school because of its culture and welcoming veteran environment.
The Principles of Excellence program is an agreement by the school to follow guidelines pertaining to student veteran issues in order to make things easier for veterans to navigate and complete their education. CU Denver also follows the eight keys to veterans’ success.
CU Denver’s Boots to Suits program ensures a smooth transition from military service to the classroom and then to the workforce. Chadwick explains that, “The program includes training, mentorship, and professional development [and] numerous networking opportunities as well.”
The PAVE program partners each incoming student with a veteran student who has already navigated the specific challenges of education after service. The program also offers tutoring, mental wellness resources, professional development workshops, and scholarships specifically for veteran students.
Adrian Toca, a junior studying Psychology, was one of the first mentors for the PAVE program and has significantly benefited from the services offered by the Office of Veteran Military Services. He said, “The office’s tutoring program has definitely helped a lot because it was an extra resource outside the CU Denver Learning Resource Center that was able to easily work around my hectic schedule.”
The university is also home to the CU Heroes Clinic, a dental clinic operated by the School of Dental Medicine, that serves honorably discharged veterans enrolled at CU Denver and select other Colorado schools. The clinic’s goal is to help bridge the gap for veterans who often do not have dental coverage when they leave military service by providing quality care at no cost.
Nationwide, veterans who have been discharged within the last 4 years are eligible for in state tuition at public schools across all 50 states. This means that veterans and their dependents no longer face residency requirements or higher non-resident tuition charges. There are exceptions, of course, but this is a significant benefit for a large portion of veterans.
Toca said, “I definitely would [recommend visiting the office] if they have time. There are many benefits to it.” Chadwick agrees, ” Having a successful transition from service to civilian cannot be done without resources. This office can directly connect you with a number of resources to help you along during your time of transition.”
Sleep v. Grades v. Friends: Finding the Balance
The greatest dilemma of every college student: how do you spend your time? There are three typical things that students choose to devote their time toward: studies, social life or physical health. All of these are important, so here are some tricks to striking a balance:
Know what you value most. Since you’re studying at school, you probably place importance on your grades, but prioritising is not as simple as completing your school work or not. You do have a limited amount of time and you most likely want to save some for other things. As a result, you’ll want to have a system to getting your work done efficiently. Know deadlines for everything so you’ll be certain when you need to skip a morning workout to finish your research paper or when you can find time later in the week and go out with friends now.
Multitask when possible. You can combine school work with other things; when you have notes or a long reading, take them to the gym, when you have a project or simply a big block of time for school work, invite friends to share a study room. That way you can look up from your work every so often and enjoy your company without a major sacrifice in either area. Make your friends part of your physical well-being by taking a group fitness class together or planning a fun movie night for those times you know you need to wake up early the next day.
Think about time of day. If you’re still groggy in the morning, then school work may not be the best way to spend your morning free time. If your first class starts at 11:00, get a workout in a 9:00 or 9:30. If you find that you’re working on your school work late into the night, use that free time in the morning to sleep in. Do you study best in small bursts or extended blocks of time? Prioritize your breaks in between classes with bursts of intense studying, or use that time to meet with friends over coffee and take a mental break while saving a large chunk of time in the p.m. for your work.
You can’t have everything. There will be days when you have to push through school work even though it feels like you haven’t seen your friends in ages. There will be nights when you blow off sleep in favor of a social event or hangout. Being clear with yourself that you will be out of balance once in awhile will help you to feel less out of control and make it easier to get back in balance later.
Though balance is hard to achieve, especially when working toward a college degree, you can make it easier for yourself by thinking through what will make you most efficient and successful.
University Love: 10 Ways to Support Your School
University pride is huge here at CU Denver! One way to get a better experience out of our college is to get involved and immerse yourself in the campus culture. Here are 10 ways you can support your school beyond financials:
- Clubs – Chances are your school has many clubs that extend school presence beyond the classroom. CU Denver has more than 120. Getting involved is an excellent way to support you school and get the most out of your time there!
- Student Government – Being involved in student government is another way to become very actively involved in the well-being of your school. You’ll have a better awareness of students’ connection with your school and how you can improve upon it.
- Performance Events – Going to a comedian’s show your school is hosting or the drama department’s production of Fiddler on the Roof is an entertaining way to support your school. Not only are you representing your school when you show up, but you’re participating in the school’s culture outside of the classroom.
- Free Stuff – Snag that cupcake on your way to class, throw the frisbee around the quad, wear your free t-shirt with pride. There’s a reason your school gives away free stuff: so you’ll use it!
- Wear School Colors – Whether you’re rocking black and gold, or your own school’s colors, it’s a sure way to promote school spirit and contribute to your school’s identity.
- Social Media – Follow your school’s social media and share, favorite, and tag them. Real-time updates from your school will keep you more in touch with what’s going on. Interacting with your school’s posts directly connects you to your school.
- Volunteer Events – Volunteering through your school whether it’s a one time thing or an ongoing commitment is a great way to represent your school. Taking time out of your day for others will help you to get more in tune with school culture.
- Alumni Events – Meeting alumni and representing your school can help you bridge the gap between school pride in the present and the future. Schools that have a strong alumni network stand out and represent themselves beyond campus.
- Networking Events – Your school most likely hosts networking events on and off campus throughout the semester. Don’t pass these by! Use them as an opportunity to represent yourself within your school and bolster respect within the professional community.
- Attitude – Every school has a certain attitude they promote through their students whether their focus is on leadership, inclusiveness, academic achievement, or anything else they view as an important standard. Being aware of the attitude your school promotes and representing it through your actions is a sure way to promote school pride.
Get the most out of your college experience by immersing yourself in school pride. There are plenty of ways to stay involved and informed throughout your years in school and beyond!
Biggest Freshmen Fears and How to Overcome Them
Entering college for the first time can be quite an experience. Whether you are coming from miles and miles away, have chosen a random roommate, or want to join a sport or club, new experiences abound. Here are some common freshmen fears and how to deal with them:
- Not getting along with your roommate – Whether you’ve chosen to live with a friend or a random roommate, it’s always nerve racking to anticipate sharing a space with someone. However, establishing an open line of communication can help clear up any concerns. Don’t be afraid that confronting your roommate will ruin your friendship. In fact, being honest as soon as possible will help you avoid a larger fight down the road.
- Making friends – Don’t be discouraged if you feel lonely when you get to school; this is a clean start for almost all freshmen. Because of this, you can be sure that others are looking for friends as well. Leave your dorm room door open when you’re there, ask a classmate to lunch, or go to club meetings that interest you. It may feel scary to put yourself out there, but others are just as intimidated and will be thankful you reached out.
- Workload – The transition from high school to college classes is always different, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t manageable. You are set up to succeed, not fail. All of your professors have office hours in which you can ask questions and voice your concerns. Don’t forget you also have an advisor whose job it is to make sure things run as smooth as possible. They can help you decide which classes are right for you and even give you advice on how to stay on top of things.
- Homesickness – Wherever you’re from, living in a new place can feel isolating. You may be longing for your old bed, wanting to see your parents and friends, or missing your old hangouts, but know that the more effort you make in your new living situation, the faster you will find new people and places to love. Distract yourself by keeping busy and making an effort, but be sure to schedule times to call home. Knowing when you’ll get to talk to your parents or friends again will allow you to focus on other things.
- Taking care of your health – Everyone’s heard of the freshmen 15 and probably wants to avoid it, but it can be tempting to forget health when you’re away from home with a full meal plan. Listen to your body; if you’re getting regular stomach aches, pay attention to what you’re choosing in the dining hall. If you’re feeling sluggish, take a trip to the gym or even a walk around campus with a friend.
- Being on your own – Most likely, college is the first time you will be without your family. Things like meals and laundry can feel like unknown territory, but know that you still have a support system at school. Ask friends and even your RA for advice. If you’re still unsure, remember that you’re coming into adulthood and you have the capability to figure things out for yourself; even if you’re slow at first, you will learn!
- Choosing the wrong major – When you jump into college academics, it can feel like everyone around you has a plan and you should have one too. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself! Take your time talking with your advisor and professors as well as considering your core classes before you choose a major. And if you think you made the wrong choice? Relax, reach out to your advisor. Plenty of students switch majors and your advisor can help make the transition much easier.
Starting college can be an intimidating experience, but the fears you have can be conquered. No one is ever fully prepared, but recognizing that you can work out your problems will help you greet this new chapter of your life with confidence.