As college applications for the next academic year draw to a close, Boston College has announced new plans to increase its veteran enrollment in the coming years. The University has partnered with Service to School’s VetLink Program, which connects student veterans to a network of partner colleges and universities across the country.
Service to School, which was founded in 2011, is a nonprofit organization that provides military service members and veterans with free college and graduate school application guidance, according to their website.
The organization has supported over 2,400 veterans in the past decade and enrolled more than 1,500 veterans in top institutions across the United States. Service to School has also acquired 25 college and university partners through its VetLink program, according to its 2019-2020 annual report.
Their VetLink program, now entering its fifth year, is a direct partnership between Service to School and select partner schools.
Jim Selbe, Chief Operating Officer of Service to School, said that the program was formed out of a desire to increase veteran attendance at colleges and universities. VetLink provides veterans with access to a dedicated point of contact at each partner school that can assist them with any questions that they may have, according to Selbe.
“So [the founders] made it a priority … to work with undergraduate veterans … who would benefit greatly by having access to points of contact at the colleges so that they can make an informed decision about one of the largest investments in their life, when this is going to impact not only them but generations to follow behind,” Selbe said.
Micheal Lochhead, Executive Vice President and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, said in an email to The Heights that BC’s Veteran Advisory Group, which was established in 2018, saw partnering with VetLink as a great opportunity to increase access and consequently enrollment for student veterans.
“The partnership with Service to School was eyed as an early priority given its potential for increasing BC’s outreach to highly-qualified student veterans,” Lochhead wrote. “Given VetLink’s rigorous criteria for selecting partner institutions and their success with other schools, we knew that the University would be in good company with colleagues sharing a common goal to increase access and opportunity for student veterans, many of whom are first generation students themselves.”
Selbe said BC will be a great addition to the VetLink Program because of the University’s mission to serve others.
“First and foremost, it’s not infrequent for us to have a veteran who wants to continue to serve in some way, and they don’t want to wait until they graduate,” Selbe said. “What I’m really excited about in terms of Boston College is that part of the foundation of Boston College is that the students themselves are engaged throughout their studies in service to others.”
He also said the opportunities students at BC have to explore their interests through the liberal arts curriculum is especially important for many veterans.
“[Student veterans] may have an idea of what they want to do, but for those that are unsure, the opportunity to explore studies across the curriculum rather than being locked into a specific degree path is an incredible advantage to the students that we’re working with,” Selbe said.
Many veterans and servicemembers in the VetLink program have already shown interest in applying to BC, according to Selbe. He said he is optimistic that student veterans will be enrolled as soon as this fall.
“I know we probably made close to a dozen introductions so far,” Selbe said. “Some may actually enroll in fall 2021 and graduate sooner [than 2025] because it’s more likely that they’re applying as a transfer student than as a first year applicant.”
Despite the disruptions that COVID-19 has brought to classrooms, Selbe said veterans are particularly equipped to handle these changes.
“We’re not finding many [veterans that] are reluctant to apply knowing that they may be engaged in a virtual classroom,” Selbe said. “They’re ready to adapt and move forward.”
Lochhead said that the University hopes to enroll more student veterans, which would further diversify BC’s campus.
“Our goal over time would be to see an increase in the number of student veterans who see Boston College as their preferred option for their undergraduate degrees,” Lochhead wrote. “Having student veterans among our undergraduate students [increases] diversity, which benefits the entire University community.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor