Military and Police

Finding the Right College May Take Some Research…Here Are Some Tips to Get Started

By Chad Storlie:

Picking a college for a student in the middle range of academic success can be a challenge. Parents who are in the military, members of law enforcement, and the civilian employees who support these organizations are especially challenged because they need to determine the “value” educational institutions provide for their children. A value educational institution delivers a great education at a low level of tuition, a high likelihood of student graduation, and high salary following graduation.

Often, students choose a “safety school” that they are guaranteed to get into due to high admission rates. There is a belief that the choice of a school with a higher probability of admission is not necessarily a “safe” choice; you must compromise the quality of the school so you can gain entrance to the school – right?

Wrong! Just because a school is expensive or selective does not mean that it delivers great educational and post-graduation financial results for students.

Higher education success for all students is defined by the results that occur once you graduate from an institution with either a two-year or a four-year degree. Educational success in college is not defined by the school’s accreditation, if it is included on a “Best Of” list, or if it gives college credit for prior education classes. Higher education success is measured by the percentage of students that graduate from the school, take advantage of low tuition levels, pay back their educational debt, find employment, and secure a higher post graduation income. In short, college success is the the professional and financial benefit you realize over subsequent years, not the short-lived esteem you experience upon admission. It’s about laying a meaningful foundation for a successful life.

Safety schools used to be considered the kind that a middle tier or slightly less than average student could gain admission to. It was also believed — again, wrongly — that these students would have to put up with a less than stellar educational setting, reduced access to top tier resources, and more modest outcomes after graduation. But there is a select list of schools that match high rates of student admittance with strong education outcomes. These so-called “safety” schools are great institutions, and should be among your first choices for college.

The following list of schools contains boast great education outcomes, low tuition levels, and great placement results that have above average rates of college admittance. These schools are a great choice for students finding their way in higher education, military veterans, or adult education students returning to complete a degree.

Value Schools That Are Great Choices for Higher Education Success For Children of Military & Law Enforcement

  1. Texas A & M University-College Station, College Station, TX
  2. University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA,
  3. Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA
  4. Indiana University-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
  5. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
  6. University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
  7. Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
  8. Auburn University, Auburn, AL
  9. University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
  10. Truman State University, Kirksville, MO
  11. Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  12. University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  13. Illinois State University, Normal, IL
  14. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

All of the institutions on the above list are public, four year institutions.

High school students, military veterans, or students with an initial low level of academic success but a high academic work ethic should not despair. Prospective students should act to research, understand, and seek out the best educational outcomes that a degree will give them. Prospective students should seek out institutions with a large student body, a student retention rate > 80%, a graduation rate > 70%, a student loan repayment rate >80%, additional student loan debt no more than $25,000 for four years, and an in-state tuition with books no more than $30,000.

You don’t have to sacrifice quality in exchange for value– there are great “safety school” colleges and universities out there that offer exceptional academic and career outcomes that create lifelong academic and career success!

Chad Storlie is an OpsLens Contributor and retired Lieutenant Colonel with 20-plus years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units.  He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. Chad is author of two books: “Combat Leader to Corporate Leader” and “Battlefield to Business Success.” Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @Combattocorp.

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