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Deployed to College: Adapting to University Life as a Student Veteran
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The purpose of this study was to understand the adaptation process for undergraduate student veterans at a large research-intensive public university in the southwestern United States. The study of this adaptation process was driven by four key problems: (a) The rapidly increasing student veteran population differs from both traditional and nontraditional student populations, (b) student veterans face numerous challenges in their adaptation, (c) staff and faculty should seek to understand this process because they are key in student veteran success, and (d) the current literature misrepresents the student veteran voice and lacks insight into student veterans’ agency in adaptation. This qualitative study utilized a constructivist paradigm of naturalistic inquiry and included 16 veterans who were undergraduate students, had served in the military after September 11, 2001, and self-described as having adapted to life as a university student. Key findings pointed to four major categories: (a) the role of environmental factors in the adaptation process, (b) the role of cognitive processes and personality in the adaptation process, (c) the role of behavior in the adaptation process, and (d) impediments to successful adaptation. Analysis of those findings led to four primary conclusions in response to the research questions: (a) Student veterans learn to adapt in a triadic, interactional manner and through observation, (b) behavior determines whether student veterans will adapt and changes in behavior indicate adaptation, (c) development of self-efficacy and agentic cognitive processes and personality traits supports successful adaptation for student veterans, and (d) environments that support self-efficacy and are conducive for learning allow for successful student veteran adaptation.
social cognitive theory
Post-9/11 GI Bill
Woodruff, Tearney Rose (2019). Deployed to College: Adapting to University Life as a Student Veteran. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from