Free MOOC to Help Student Veterans Transition from Active Service to Higher Education

August 22, 2017
Veterans at Columbia University

Photo by Eileen Barroso 

Columbia University’s new Center for Veteran Transition and Integration has designed a unique MOOC (massive open online course) version of its University Studies course specifically to help veterans transition smoothly from military service to higher education, and bolster their success once they arrive. Designed in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning and the School of General Studies, the MOOC is scheduled to launch on September 6, 2017. The course is free and open to all.

University Studies for Student Veterans is a full-length MOOC based on a course that has been taught with great success at Columbia for the last five years. Led by a team of academic advisors from Columbia University with more than 20 years of experience supporting students—including thousands of student veterans—transitioning to higher education, this course offers strategies for academic success for service members and veterans navigating the transition from military service to the college classroom.

While this course is open and free to everyone, the content has been tailored specifically for student veterans currently pursuing higher education, active-duty service members who aspire to start school or return to school soon at community college or a four-year college or university, and higher education professionals who work to support student veterans at their schools.

“Student veterans who take the path from active military service to the rigors of a college classroom tell us the same thing: transitioning from being in the service to being a student isn’t always straightforward, and the culture shift can be jarring,” said R.J. Jenkins, the former associate dean of students who leads the curriculum design team for the Center. “As a result, veterans who pursue higher education once they’ve left the military sometimes find the transition challenging.”

The course will ensure students know the rules of college and offers strategies to make the transition easier, to help service members and veterans achieve their academic goals, and make the most of their college education. In short, this sophisticated course is a powerful tool to relearn how to learn.

“Our mission at the Center is to better enable service members and transitioning veterans to meet their academic and career potential. This course is a major step toward fulfilling that mission,” said Michael Abrams, Executive Director of the Center for Veteran Transition and Integration. “By using innovative educational technologies, best-in-class programming, and leveraging our meaningful partnerships with universities and organizations across the country, we feel we can have a substantive impact on thousands of transitioning veterans each semester.”

During the self-paced course, students may choose to pursue a particular pathway through course materials, based on their needs and preferences. University Studies for Student Veterans may be used in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, as a start-to finish, self-directed online experience. This course, in its current format, can also be used as an “orientation” for other student veteran success programs. It is a library of academic success strategies, a tool for flipped classroom pedagogy, and finally a textbook for on-the-ground transition courses.

Course activities introduce students to foundational academic and study skills for achieving academic success in college, strategies for more effective reading, writing, test preparation, and time management, proven tips for students taking STEM and other technical courses, and metacognition and the academic mindset.

Visit ColumbiaX to register for University Studies for Student Veterans and to keep informed about upcoming MOOC releases from Columbia University.