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Columbia University

Attaining Higher Education

Columbia University via edX


Attaining Higher Education is a course designed to facilitate the successful transition of active duty service members and veterans to postsecondary education, whether at a two- or four-year college for an associate's or bachelor's degree, or even graduate school. Too often, service members and veterans transition with little information, or incorrect information, about what makes students successfully realize their goals through higher education. Frequently they are left to navigate a difficult and complicated transition to higher education without robust support or complete information.

This course is designed to break down the process of transition to education and to assist service members in finding an educational program that fully maximizes their potential. The course:

  • lays out how to approach admissions processes to institutions of higher education
  • guides students through the self-assessment needed to determine if and how to apply wisely
  • challenges students to consider the factors which make a college a right fit for them
  • offers an overview of the college application process, whether at a community college or four-year college
  • provides a summary of the most common sources of financial aid available to many transitioning service members and veterans

From intentional decision making--a method through which service members and veterans connect their life and military experiences with a potential academic or career path--to choosing a right fit college, understanding the application process, and financing their education, this course will provide tangible ways to successfully navigate all of these benchmarks in the transition to higher education.

While this course is open to everyone, the content has been tailored specifically for active duty service members and veterans, especially those who aspire to start school or return to school soon, and higher education professionals who work to support student veterans.


I Welcome and Introduction

II Intentional Decision-Making

  • Introduction to Intentional Decision-Making
  • How We Choose
  • The Importance of Values
  • The Logical Next Steps
  • Options and Opportunities
  • Talking It Through
  • Making Your Choice

III Choosing A Right-Fit College

  • Introduction to Choosing a Right-Fit College
  • Important Factors to Consider
  • Basic Overview of Higher Ed
  • Major Selection
  • Questions to Ask
  • Creating a College List

IV The College Application Process

  • Introduction to the College Application Process
  • The College Application
  • Essays
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Interviews
  • Admission Decisions
  • What to Do Once Accepted

V. Financing Your Education

  • Introduction to Financing Your Education
  • VA Benefits
  • Types of Financial Aid
  • Non-Federal Grants and Loans

VI. Keeping Graduate School on the Horizon

  • What Matters: Reflection on Your Values, Goals, and Options
  • Using Your Coursework to Develop Academic Relationships
  • Common Graduate School Programs
  • Timelines
  • Financing
  • Beyond AHE

Taught by

Beth E. Morgan, R.J. Jenkins, Skip Bailey, Tanya Ang and Dirk Vanderlaan


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