Summer workshop gets veterans set for college

by | Aug 13, 2015

Incoming UMSL students Dureese Colvin (left) and Richard Dalton (middle) and other area veterans participated in the St. Louis Veterans Pre-Collegiate Fellowship.
Pre-collegiate fellowship

Incoming UMSL students Dureese Colvin (left) and Richard Dalton (middle) joined Paul Joshu and other area veterans as participants in the St. Louis Veterans Pre-Collegiate Fellowship on the UMSL campus in August. (Photo by David Grant)

Only 51 percent of veterans who start college actually graduate. That’s according to a study released last year by Student Veterans of America. And among those who do drop out, two thirds leave before their third semester.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis has teamed up with St. Louis Community College, St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis in an attempt to address that problem. Leading up to the start of fall classes, 10 student veterans from several area colleges participated in a one-week college preparatory workshop called the St. Louis Veterans Pre-Collegiate Fellowship.

“This five-day intensive workshop provides foundational academic skill-building for veterans in order to equip them with the competencies needed to succeed at the undergraduate level and beyond,” said program founder and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jim Craig, chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies at UMSL.

Nationwide, many student veterans report feeling overwhelmed by math and writing requirements, and they often lack connections to support networks during what can be a tough transition period. In order to best prepare student veterans for that shift to college life, the UMSL-hosted fellowship program focused on refreshing math and writing skills as well as connecting them with local resources and building relationships with other veterans.

“Perhaps most vital to their success is that the fellowship provides an informal venue for veterans to connect with other veterans who are going through a similar experience,” Craig said. “An effective peer connection can mean the difference between a veteran finishing a degree or not.”

In addition to completing nearly 20 hours of college-level reading, writing and mathematics during the program Aug. 10-14, the veteran participants engaged with representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran service organizations and veteran-focused charities. They also had the opportunity to network with local business professionals from Prism Medical, Veteran Distribution, Inc., Boeing, Emerson, Experience on Demand and Monsanto.

Students finished out the weeklong fellowship by volunteering alongside the veteran-run organization The Mission Continues for a service project that included painting and landscaping at Little Creek Nature Area, an outdoor learning facility of the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

For more information on the St. Louis Veterans Pre-Collegiate Fellowship, click here.

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