To the editor:
I am writing in response to the article “Nonprofit releases guidebook to help veterans find the right college” published on February 24, 2015. I want to applaud the efforts of Service to School, the organization that was the focus this your article. Any group that wants to assist veterans after their service to our country deserves recognition for their dedication to help others.
Mr. Legoski makes reference to the G.I. Bill and claims that “at least 10 percent of students must be willing to pay for their education”. There are other facts to consider, especially in reference to the more modern, updated version known as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Most students who are attending college using their educational benefits are filing under Chapter 33 of Title 38, U.S. Code. These benefits are different than those under the traditional Montgomery G.I. Bill, which applies to Chapter 30 of Title 38, U.S. Code. The single account of one veteran who made references to the 90/10 rule did not take into consideration the Yellow Ribbon Program. DeVry University is an active member of this program. The tuition payment along with the book stipend ensures that there are no expenses incurred to veteran students using their benefits to attend DeVry University or Keller Graduate School of Business Management.
I have a different point of view than Mr. Legoski concerning my education at DeVry. I have served my country on active duty for over nineteen years. My personal goal was to earn my Bachelor’s Degree prior to my retirement later this year. DeVry University San Diego not only assisted me in accomplishing this goal, but also provided career services at career fairs and resume writing workshops at no additional cost to me or any of my fellow veteran students.
Many opportunities have been presented to me while I have attended DeVry. DeVry asked me to testify on their behalf to the California Assembly Subcommittee on Higher Education concerning private universities in California allowing veteran students to use their educational benefits to earn their degree. I volunteered my time to create a local chapter of the DeVry Military Resource Club to reach out to the local community to address the specific needs of our veteran students. Our club is a sanctioned chapter of the Student Veterans of America. I noticed that Stanford University also has a chapter to assist their veteran students.
There are always going to be people who will only see for-profit universities as businesses who take advantage of their students. Unlike at a public university, the class sizes at DeVry have a capacity of 25 to 30 students per session. The class schedule is geared toward the working student pursuing their higher education. The professors at DeVry have been known to stay well past the 9pm or 10pm ending of class to help students who seek assistance. I had some difficulty converting my Chapter 30 benefit to a Chapter 33 with the Veterans Affairs office, but during that time, I was still allowed to attend class even though the school had not received payment.
The Daily article states, “The guidebook offers veteran-specific and catered advice using military nomenclature. One recommendation is against taking classes while in service, as it is much more difficult to get into good schools as a transfer student instead of a freshman.” I have to politely disagree with this statement. As a current active duty member of the United States Navy, I can assure that the Department of the Navy awards points toward advancement for Sailors who earn their Associates or Bachelors degrees while on active duty. Additionally, off-duty education is used as grading criteria for each Sailor’s annual evaluation given by their superiors. The Navy College Office that is present on each and every base worldwide is there to assist Sailors who are in pursuit of their higher education. In my nineteen years, I have never heard anyone mention anything to the effect that if a veteran wishes to attend a four year university after their military career, it is easier to gain admission as a freshman rather than a transferring student. A more accurate statement would be to ensure that military members look for a school that is part of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC). If a college or university is enrolled in this association, then the defined list of courses for each college will be accepted by all members of that group.
I, like many other veterans, have had my share of obstacles and roadblocks along my path while earning my degree. I took advantage of the Joint College Transcript which allowed me to transfer my military education and apply those credits toward a degree. I will graduate this May with honors summa cum laude earning a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Management. I owe a debt of gratitude to the fine people at DeVry University San Diego. Although I am just one veteran, my story should be told to represent DeVry University in a positive way. The focus of the previous Daily article was lost in translation because of its factual errors. I wish again to applaud the efforts of the group Service to School. I do not wish to undermine their efforts in assisting fellow veterans. I only wish that stories such as mine along with the additional facts presented here were reflected in the original article.
Marc Sigmon, President
DeVry Military Resource Club San Diego
Contact Marc Sigmon at msigmon ‘at’ my.devry.edu.