Attorneys general announce settlement with for-profit college marketer

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In the first result of a multistate investigation into for-profit colleges, state attorneys general announce a settlement -- with a marketing company.

Unregulated for-profits receive big chunk of military spouse tuition aid

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Largely unregulated for-profit vocational colleges, which can't receive federal student aid, collect 40 percent of military spouse tuition benefits.

Veterans-only classes both expanding and closing

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While more colleges create sections only for those with military backgrounds, some institutions move away from that model.

Majority of senators sign letter opposing Defense Department rules

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To win Republican senators' support, letter opposing new Defense Department policies on tuition assistance was changed to eliminate references to for-profit colleges as "subpar" institutions.

Where are the veterans at elite colleges, and not? (essay)

From the top, the 2015 undergraduate veteran count U.S. News’s top ranked most highly selective colleges: Yale, four; Harvard, unknown; Princeton, one; Williams, one.

So what? Every day this slap in the face to the potential of men and women who have served the nation in war rolls right down to my door at Bunker Hill Community College (which has about 500 veterans). These are men and women who too often believe the message sent by the top four -- that veterans can’t do the work at selective colleges. I do not tell these men and women they should go to these colleges. I do suggest they take a look. That suggestion is a hard sell. Isn’t a point of education, most highly selective colleges, everyone, to show students how to test their limits?

The big picture here: more than one million veterans have used or are using the 2008 Post-9/11 GI Bill.

More than the most selective salute and follow the big four listed above. The American Association of Community Colleges has no recent or planned programs I could find. AACC President Walter Bumphus did not reply to queries for clarification. The American Council on Education, however, front and center on its web page, has an invitation to a free webinar at 2 p.m. EST tomorrow, “Preparing Military Veterans for Leadership and Success in Higher Education.” The talk is by the leaders of the Warrior-Scholar Project, an astonishing free academic boot camp for veterans that blows the roof off the generally low expectations we, the people, have for low-income students generally.

John Around Him, a Lakota Sioux in my very first section of College Writing I, a U.S. Army veteran who drove a tank in the invasion of Baghdad, handed in a paper I couldn’t improve. I suggested he check out Dartmouth. He has graduated from Dartmouth. He is teaching at-risk high school students, which he once was, just what he wanted to do when he first arrived at Bunker Hill. When he has visited other veterans at Bunker Hill to encourage them, I often ask if he remembers when I first suggested he check out Dartmouth. John smiles and turns to the other veterans. “I do remember,” he says. “I thought Professor Sloane was out of his (expletive deleted) mind.”

The sachems and panjandrums and powers at Yale, Harvard, Princeton and certainly Williams, where I went, seem to agree that I am out of my (expletive deleted) mind. That’s because I keep objecting to their baseless, lazy and continued public slap in the face of all the student veterans I know. And because I object to institutions with tax-free endowments collecting dividends and gains to spend on luxurious buildings while off-loading the harder work, with prejudice, to underfunded public community colleges.

Columbia University’s School of General Studies continues on the good side as the leader in reaching out to veterans. This fall, 408. Read for yourself this essay by one of their student veterans. Georgetown enrolls 58. At Wesleyan University, the number of undergraduate veterans has risen from two to 11 to 22. Wesleyan joined the Posse Foundation Veterans Program, which helps Wesleyan find, prepare and enroll 10 veteran freshmen each fall.

Vassar College, new to the list, was the first selective college to join Posse and now has 30 undergraduate veterans. And Dartmouth, with 17 veterans and always a leader in encouraging undergraduate veterans, will enroll its first Posse in September 2016. The Posse colleges, then, enrolling 10 new veterans each year, will have 40 undergraduate veterans. Keep in mind this year: Yale, four; Harvard, unknown; Princeton, one; and Williams, one.

I can’t say exactly how this year’s total, 643, compares with previous years because this year the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Rochester, Cornell, Harvard, Swarthmore and Oberlin had no answers or declined to reply to many requests. The saddest mystery is that every year so many of the self-described most highly selective colleges have no interest in the number of undergraduate veterans enrolled. Until I ask, almost none have made a count of their own. Penn hasn’t counted and reported that no one would be counting for another week or two.

So what? This lack of interest means at least that most presidents at these most highly selective colleges have no plans to welcome veterans with dinner or a cookout. Most troubling is the possibility that these colleges, then, have no idea if individual veterans need help on the torrent of paperwork to access GI Bill benefits or the obstacles within the VA health system.

Penn and the rest might take a professional-development trip to Rhode Island to visit Brown. The most enthusiastic, forward-thinking statements this year are from Karen McNeil, of Brown's Office of Student Veterans and Commissioning Programs.

“We have 10 undergraduate veteran students, which makes them 0.25% of the student body,” McNeil said in an email. “But, on the bright side, five of those students are new this year, so there is progress being made, and I'm hopeful these numbers will be improving fast and far.” She added a simple IT step that the other colleges surveyed should check out. This year, again, several colleges sent last-minute revisions to their veteran counts. “Our veterans are specially coded in our registrar's computer systems, so we know exactly who they are and can track retention and graduation rates.”

Also new on the landscape this year is the growing numbers of groups working to give veterans the confidence to apply to selective colleges.

Beth Morgan, director of Service to School (S2S), reports that 167 veterans planning to transfer to four-year colleges in 2016 and 2017 have accepted the free admission and application advising S2S offers. S2S advisers in past years have helped 127 veterans win admission to top business schools and eight to top law schools.

“S2S really jumped into the undergraduate space this past admissions cycle because this was an area of great need,” Morgan said in an email. “Helping active-duty service members get into the best school possible to maximize their GI Bill benefits is our mission.” Twenty veterans helped by S2S are undergraduates this fall at colleges including Yale, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, USC and Columbia, according to Morgan.

Other news this year is the number of veterans who are succeeding in rigorous academic programs. This is evidence to begin a rebuttal of the belief expressed once to me by an Ivy League president: “Veterans can’t do the work.”

At the urging of William Treseder, a Stanford Marine veteran, Stanford added a free, six-credit program -- called Stanford 2 to 4 -- for veterans at community colleges to its summer school. The program immerses veterans in the academic skills required for success in college. Ten veterans, including two from Bunker Hill, attended last summer. This summer, 2016, will be the third summer for the Stanford program. Stanford staff report that veterans are succeeding.

More than 20 undergraduate veterans, too, have succeeded in the nine-week summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Kit Parker, a Harvard professor, U.S. Army major and two-time Afghanistan veteran, runs the labs that host the program. Veterans, many from Bunker Hill, have spent the summer working alongside … students from most highly selective colleges. Harvard has invited all the BHCC veterans to return in the fall to continue working in the labs. With a Harvard postdoc, one co-wrote a paper that they presented at an academic conference. That veteran is studying engineering at Northeastern.

The Posse Foundation Veterans Program, with 50 undergraduate veterans enrolled so far, is succeeding. Catharine Hill, president of Vassar, and Debbie Biall, founder of the Posse Foundation, wondered if the Posse model -- cohorts or posses of about 10 prepared low-income, urban high school students attending a selective college together -- would work for veterans. Vassar this year has three veteran posses -- freshman, sophomore and junior -- and Wesleyan two. (Disclaimer: Hill is a friend, and we have worked together on veterans’ issues.)

“Volunteering to serve in our country's military services shouldn't preclude attending some of our most selective colleges and universities,” said Hill in an email. “These schools offer a superb education, with high graduation rates, for which our veterans should be eligible. We are in our third year of the Posse program, and these students have been a great addition to our student body.”

One hundred veterans over the past three summers have completed the two-week academic boot camp that the Warrior-Scholar Project offers on the campuses of selective colleges. Faculty from the hosting colleges teach the seminars. “We track our graduates,” said the program’s founder, Jesse Reising. “One hundred percent who have completed WSP and started school have stayed in school.” I’ve watched veterans debate Thucydides and de Tocqueville.

I asked the colleges in the survey this year, too, about recognizing Veterans Day. These universities -- Yale, Princeton, Washington University, Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Stanford, Chicago -- have substantial ceremonies for Veterans Day. The Princeton ceremony will close with a benediction from the university’s Muslim chaplain. Columbia veterans also have a float in the New York City Veterans Day Parade. The universities do have veterans, often hundreds, as graduate students. (A bachelor’s degree and a good academic record are required for these graduate schools. My interest is in the veterans who have not been to college.)

Trinity College will have “Veterans Day: A Sacred Conversation,” a discussion between the college chaplain and Trinity students who have served in the armed forces. Carleton reported that the chaplain sends an all-campus email inviting students, faculty and staff to light a candle for veterans in the chapel. Williams said it might run a story on the single veteran there on the college web page.

And this year I asked a veteran at one of the most highly selective colleges what he makes of the potential for veterans at these colleges. “I would challenge all of my fellow veterans at every level of education to strive to do one better than where they are at present,” said Chad Rairie, a Marine veteran with two Afghanistan deployments who is vice president of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association.

“If veterans are at a junior college, apply to a four-year. If they are at a four-year, apply to transfer to a better one. If you don’t think you will get in, fill out the application anyway. The worst that can happen is someone tells you no,” Rairie said. “But if the rare opportunity should arise where you are accepted to a school like Dartmouth, seize the opportunity and don’t look back! Remember, you miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. So take a shot.”

For next year, I’ll bet then on the applications of 167 veterans in the S2S pipeline, on the 100 alumni from Warrior-Scholar, and on all from Stanford 2 to 4 and the Harvard REU to flood these laggard most highly selective colleges with applications. I’ll hope these applications, packed with evidence that veterans can do the work, may open some doors.

And I’ll close as usual with the invitation to all to read “Dulce et Decorum Est,” the World War I poem by Wilfred Owen.

My hope? That one day those with most highly selective educations will start teaching students to solve problems with solutions that do not send other people’s children to war.

Undergraduate Veterans in Regular Degree Programs

  2013 Expanded 2014 Total 2015
Amherst College 8 5 8
Brown University 12 11 10
Bryn Mawr College 0 0 0
Carleton College 0 0 0
Columbia U School of General Studies n/a 360 408
Cornell University 1    
Dartmouth College 14   17
Duke University 1 1 2
Georgetown 25 74 58
Harvard University   4  
Johns Hopkins University 23 19 30
MIT 2 0 1
Mount Holyoke College 0 2 4
Northwestern University 14 19 11
Oberlin College 0    
Pomona College 1 1 1
Princeton University 1 1 1
Rice University 1 0 0
Smith College 0 0 1
Stanford University   10 16
Swarthmore College 0    
Trinity College   10 4
University of Chicago      
University of Pennsylvania 35 35 0
University of Rochester 16    
Vassar     30
Washington University in St. Louis 20 21 13
Wellesley College 2 2 1
Wesleyan University 2 11 22
Williams College 0 0 1
Yale University 2 3 4
Total 180 596 643
At Columbia, undergraduate veterans attend the School of General Studies. The list this year does not include, then Barnard and Columbia College. The list adds Vassar College.      
Blanks mean an institution did not reply or provide a number.

Wick Sloane, an end user of a selective-college education, writes “The Devil’s Workshop” for Inside Higher Ed. Follow him @WickSloane.

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Army restructures educational system to resemble civilian universities

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The U.S. Army will model its newly consolidated approach to educational programs on traditional higher education, in part to help soldiers get more college credits for their military experience.

VA delays requirement that student veterans receive in-state tuition

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Obama administration gives states and public universities additional six months to comply with federal requirement that they offer in-state rates to veterans -- regardless of residency.

Warrior-Scholar Project helps military veterans succeed at residential colleges

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Two-week boot camp to help veterans make the transition to college is spreading at selective institutions.

More research needed on student veterans

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Existing research and discussion of student veterans doesn't recognize the diversity of the demographic. 

Veterans a rarity at most elite colleges (essay)

A nation at war? President Obama dispatching 1,500 more troops to Iraq and bombing Syria? Yet again, the nation’s most selective colleges, with a couple of exceptions, prefer to look the other way. 

From the top: Williams, U.S. News's top liberal arts college, undergraduate veterans enrolled? Zero.

Princeton: One. Yale: Three. Harvard: Four.

Duke – with how many trainers, tutors, and dieticians for how many Division I athletes? – one.

Cornell, one undergraduate veteran last year, would only reply that no one was available to answer our questions. Swarthmore, a college with Quaker, anti-war, peace-seeking roots, and zero undergraduate veterans last year, didn’t reply at all to requests this year.

Barnard: Zero.  Columbia College: Zero. Bryn Mawr: Zero.  Carleton: Zero. MIT: Zero.  Rice: Zero. Smith: Zero.

So what? Many commenters last year challenged the relevance of veterans or not at selective colleges.

So what? Many alumni from selective colleges, and not community colleges, end up in the senior executive branch and legislative offices that are sending men and women to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Don’t the men and women who volunteer for the military before college enable the high SAT, 5-AP exam, practically perfect in every way selective-college students to go to school without interruption?  Wouldn’t these students themselves champion sharing their classrooms with veterans?  My craziest reason is the simple moral obligation of us all to support the men and women we send to war.

Look at the numbers. The total undergraduate enrollment of the 31 colleges surveyed, the self-selected members of the Consortium for the Financing of Higher Education, COFHE, is about 118,000. And barely 600 spots for the men and women who volunteered to go to war since 9/11? What will COFHE graduates know of war?

So what? Moments into any gathering of one or more U.S. higher education leaders, one of them will crow that the U.S. higher education system is the envy of the world.  O.K., to modify the famous Prussian military strategist, Clausewitz, let’s call war “the failure to solve a problem by other means.”  Why, then, can’t the graduates of the best higher ed system in the world solve problems without sending other people’s children to wars costing trillions of dollars that are unavailable for social services and, yes, education?

Can any college beat Yale? Alumni from Yale – George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Jerry Bremer, Scooter Libby – failed at the History 101 skill of evaluating sources and sent the nation to war over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. To support their father and set an example, did the Bush twins enlist? Remember, during Vietnam, Harvard graduate Al Gore enlisted and served in Vietnam to support his father, U.S. Senator Al Gore Sr., who opposed the Vietnam war.

This year, the survey adds in the 360 undergraduate veterans at Columbia, who are in the School of General Studies, for a COFHE total of 596.  The 2013 total, without Columbia, was 180*.  The 2014 total, net of Columbia, is 174*. The * is because some don’t report and some know only estimates.

This higher total does not mean 360 more undergraduate veterans are in COFHE schools this fall. For this column, Columbia’s success will not outshine the sorry performance of selective colleges over all. I’ll cover Columbia’s program in a separate column. (Click here for a copy of Columbia’s full reply this year.)

In previous reports, I had excluded veterans in General Studies programs. After years of no movement at so many COFHE schools, I have changed my mind. Columbia has found a way through the academic minefields to do more for more undergraduate veterans than the rest of the COFHE schools combined. I was wrong in years past to exclude Columbia, and I apologize to those at Columbia who felt I was diminishing either their achievements as veterans or their work, as faculty and staff, on behalf of veterans.

The overall numbers continue as grim, pitiful, sad, hard to comprehend. My frame of reference? The 473 (most recent count) veterans at Bunker Hill Community College, where I work. As grim is how many colleges just don’t want to discuss the situation.

The University of Pennsylvania reported 35 undergraduate veterans and answered none of the other questions. Thirty-five is great. How did Penn achieve this? Why?

I was looking for ideas to spread. “Wick: Sorry, but I’m not going to be able to provide more,” said Stephen J. McCarthy, vice president for university communications at Penn.

I’ll start with the positive. Georgetown, the highest, reports 81 total undergraduate veterans, 392 graduate student veterans, and 84 spouses or dependents of veterans using GI Bill benefits.

“Georgetown has a full-time veterans office on campus to support student veterans,” said David Shearman, Georgetown Veterans Coordinator.  “The veterans office includes university staff and current student veterans who can share their experience with prospective student veterans.” 

Georgetown services for veterans includes support on GI Bill and health benefits, faculty and staff training on working with veterans, and, since 2010, a Veterans Support Team of deans, faculty, administrators and students who meet regularly to review campus needs and programs. The Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy had a Public Issues Forum entitled "Changing the Conversation: Capitalizing on the Strengths of Veterans Here at Home." (Click here for a link to the white paper and a video of the forum.)

Other highs are Washington University in St. Louis, 21; and 19 each at Johns Hopkins University and Northwestern.  An active-duty Navy SEAL made the 2014 Northwestern football team (click here). 

To the good, Wesleyan added 10 undergraduate veterans as part of the Posse Veterans program. Stanford added an 11-student free veterans program to its summer school last summer, Stanford 2 to 4: A Veterans Accelerator (inspired by a January 2012 Devil’s Workshop column).  Stanford also expanded its office of military-affiliated communities. (More on emerging veteran summer programs in a later column.)

To the good, Wellesley, a women’s college, reported two veterans and six in ROTC. Mount Holyoke has two veterans. Given that fewer women are in the military, the results from these women’s colleges are spectacular.

In response to complaints from colleges last year that reporting only undergraduate veteran enrollment was insufficient, the survey expanded to include whatever the colleges wanted to report, plus information on admissions recruiting, ROTC, active-duty students, and the number of alumni who have served or been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Click here to see the survey questions.)  Few colleges offered much additional information.

To the good, Johns Hopkins and Amherst reported knowledge of alumni who had served or been killed or wounded since 9/11. Amherst reported 90 alumni had served with one killed.

Johns Hopkins reported two alumni killed in the Army in Iraq; one alumna Foreign Service officer; and one alumna who was a civilian contractor. For admissions and recruiting veterans, no one replied to a question about the total number of recruiting visits each year versus the number of visits specifically for veterans. To the good, the associate dean of admissions at Amherst is responsible for veterans. Williams and Yale described recruiting strategies aimed more at proving veterans were not excluded than at actually recruiting veterans.

At MIT, with zero veterans, Admissions Dean Stuart Schmill expressed responsibility for the so-far poor results. MIT also has an admissions officer whose job description includes veteran recruitment.

“We have been increasing what we are doing to recruit and support veterans, but have not yet had the tangible success we hope to,” said Schmill.  “We do have a plan to continue to increase our outreach, and are hoping for some success soon.”

Many colleges continue to work with the excellent Marine Corps Leadership Scholar Program, which links Marines leaving the service with colleges. That program can only convey what a college offers. If a college has few to no veterans and no services for veterans, why would a veteran choose that college?

COFHE schools with few to no veterans, no veterans services, and no particular outreach to veterans continue to express surprise that veterans are not applying.

Would those baffled colleges go recruiting football players if their college lacked a a football field? Further, would they be surprised if the players did not come?

The survey and other reporting this year year brought more information than a single column can contain.  Future columns will consider the Columbia program; summer programs where veterans are demonstrating high academic ability; the continued and puzzling resistance by selective colleges to the Posse Foundation Veterans Program; and, in the absence of graduation rate data for the GI Bill, surveys asking individual college for their own reports.

Reported Undergraduate Veterans in Regular Degree Program 2013 Expanded 2014 Total
Amherst College 8 5
Barnard College 0 0
Brown University 12 11
Bryn Mawr College 0 0
Carleton College 0 0
Columbia College 0 0
Columbia U. School of General Studies n/a 360
Cornell 1 --
Dartmouth College 14 --
Duke University 1 1
Georgetown 25 81
Harvard University   4
Johns Hopkins University 23 19
MIT 2 0
Mount Holyoke College 0 2
Northwestern University 14 19
Oberlin College 0  
Pomona College 1 1
Princeton University 1 1
Rice University 1 0
Smith College 0 0
Stanford University   10
Swarthmore College 0 --
Trinity College   10
University of Chicago   --
University of Pennsylvania 35 35
University of Rochester 16 --
Washington Univ. in St.Louis 20 21
Wellesley College 2 2
Wesleyan University 2 11
Williams College 0 0
Yale University 2 3
Total 180 596

I'll end again this year with an invitation to read Dulce et Decorum Est, the World War I poem by Wilfred Owen.

Wick Sloane, an end user of a selective-college education, writes “The Devil’s Workshop” column for Inside Higher Ed. Follow him @WickSloane.

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