If you are a member of the military or a veteran of the Armed Forces, you are well-positioned for college success. Making the transition to civilian life comes with its challenges, but earning a degree can help you overcome some of those obstacles and enter your new career successfully. Luckily, your time in the military prepared you in a unique way for the role of student. Here are some specific ways you may be better prepared than the average student for the rigors of college.

Strong Discipline and Time Management

Military life is all about discipline. You learn how to be disciplined in every area of life, from how you make your bed to how you take care of your body. One of the best educational benefits of joining the military, beyond the financial support you’re eligible for, is the strong discipline you will gain.

While military life teaches you to be disciplined in all areas, it especially hones your time management skills. You learn how to assess the tasks you have and choose the order in which to complete them by a deadline. Since college is all about deadlines, this is an invaluable skill.

Importance of Discipline in College

You need discipline in every stage of life, but in college, it’s of particular importance. You will manage heavy workloads and tight deadlines with professors with differing expectations. You’ll also need to set an alarm to get yourself to class on time each day. The basic military skills of discipline and time management will help in each of these areas.

Leadership Skills

Harvard Business Review indicates that most military service members leave the military to be strong leaders. Your training and the experience you have in the service are both responsible for this truth. In addition, when you are in the military, you have a high level of responsibility and will get increased authority as you move through the ranks. Leadership skills help you in three distinct ways in college:

Decision Making

Military service members must learn to make decisions, even in challenging circumstances. This decision-making skill will serve you well in school.


Military leaders learn how to delegate tasks to others when possible. While they are willing to sacrifice their own needs for the benefit of others, they also know how to ask others to help when the situation calls for it. When your workload gets heavy in school, the ability to delegate will help.


Communication is an important skill for a leader to develop, and your training in the military will help you communicate well with your fellow soldiers. When you head to college, you will be ready to communicate with classmates and teachers. Among the military academic skills you will gain, the ability to communicate well may be one of the most universally applicable.

Being Able to Think Critically and Problem Solve

On the list of military skills you gained that will help you in college is the ability to think critically and solve problems – both invaluable attributes for college students.

Critical Thinking

Members of the military know how to solve problems, even tricky problems, so they can complete their objectives. According to U.S. Veterans Magazine, most military vets can plan their education more effectively than those who didn't serve because they were trained on how to plan missions, making them less likely to overlook a required class and hurt their ability to graduate.


You face constant change in the military, sometimes orchestrated on purpose to teach you this important skill. Once you are on active duty, your ability to adapt will help you make split-second decisions on the battlefield when something goes wrong. While the stakes won’t be as high in college coursework, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is a crucial life skill that will serve you well.

Using These Skills to Navigate College Success

How do critical thinking and adaptability help you in college? You might find college life is more predictable than military life, but you may still need to make split-second changes to your plan when a professor throws a surprise assignment your way or your computer dies, losing the paper you’ve been working on. Your ability to think on the go and solve problems as you encounter them will take you far. 

Collaboration and Working in a Team

In the military, you are working as a team all the time. Your squad becomes like family as you work through training and missions together. When you go to school, your ability to be a team player will take you far.


Many of today’s college classrooms are focused on discussion as a learning strategy. Rather than lecture at students for the duration of the class, most professors implement a teaching style based on the Socratic method. This involves students actively engaging in conversation and debate throughout the class, giving students the opportunity to explore and share ideas with their peers. Your ability to work well with others will make you a valuable contributor to these group discussions.


Group projects are ubiquitous in the college classroom, and for good reason – most professions require near-constant collaboration. In the military, you will have learned how to collaborate to achieve your squad or unit’s goal. In college, you’ll similarly need to work with classmates to achieve the goals of your group project. Your collaboration, communication, and teamwork skills that you honed in the military will serve you well as a valuable member of your classroom groups.

Knowing Your Support Systems and Resources

There are multiple supports and resources for military members and veterans ready to head to school. Some of the most important include these:

GI Bill

Does the military pay for college? In many cases, yes! The GI Bill pays qualifying veterans and their family members for their college and graduate school expenses. The amount of a GI Bill award will vary depending on many factors, but this can be quite helpful in lowering the cost of your college education.

Veteran Student Organizations

Veteran student organizations provide a connection point for vets who are also students to find each other. While there are many such organizations, some school-based and others community-based, Student Veterans of America is one of the largest. It has more than 1,500 on-campus chapters across the country. Find a veteran student organization in your community to connect with and build relationships with fellow veterans who are now back in school.

Resources for Military Students

In addition to veteran student organizations and the financial help of the GI Bill, you will find that most colleges have resources for military students. For instance, many schools have disability resource centers with specific training for the needs of veterans with disabilities. Others have clubs and groups that help connect service members with each other, as well as programs for the families of military students. Programs to help military service members transition to civilian life are also available at many schools.

Cumberlands Is a Strong, Supportive Military School

University of the Cumberlands is a top ten Military Friendly® university. If you are looking for a school that will support your educational goals while helping you make the most out of your military benefits, then consider University of the Cumberlands. We are the largest, fastest-growing university in the state, and we waive all application fees for members of the military. We have multiple fully online degree programs, including doctorate degree programs, that give military members the flexibility they need for success. Reach out to our team today to learn how you can take your next step with University of the Cumberlands.