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Veterans fight for priority registration for college classes

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

In honor of Veterans Day Thursday, I plan to blog all week on issues facing student veterans and what colleges are doing to help.

On many college campuses, honors students and athletes get to register for classes before everyone else on campus. In addition to getting their pick of the most interesting courses, they also avoid having to push back their graduation date because of a required class being filled. (Other colleges do the same for students with disabilities, band members and a host of other groups, according to a 2007 survey.)

Student veterans want the same perk.

Michael Dakduk, president of the Student Veterans of America, said priority registration also speeds up the process of federal dollars arriving at the campus, as most veterans pay for most, if not all, of their tuition and fees through the new GI Bill.

During a welcome back event for student veterans at the University of Arizona earlier this semester, school officials announced that starting next semester veterans can register early for their classes, something athletes have been doing for years, according to the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Student leaders had been advocating for the change for more than a year and a half, and the announcement was met with cheers.

The university's Student Veterans of American chapter was named the top in the country at a national conference at Georgetown University this fall. The group has also worked to open a transition center on campus for veterans, which is staffed by student workers, and organized campus events and outreach programs.

Last year the California legislature mandated that all state universities and colleges give members or recent members of the armed forces priority registration. Mississippi State University started offering priority registration to veterans last semester, according to The Reflector. Eastern Kentucky University is in the process of doing so, according to its Veterans Affairs Web site.

What do you think colleges can do to help student veterans succeed and graduate? What is your college doing (or not doing) to help? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail, johnsonj@washpost.com.

By Jenna Johnson  | November 10, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Eastern Kentucky University, Missouri State University, University of Arizona  
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Comments

I graduated from college (Temple U!) in 2007, and as far as I know, there wasn't a priority registration system contingent on anything but your accumulated credit hours. As an honors student, we received certain library privileges and other things, but not priority registration. I don't think the athletes did either, and the band members certainly didn't (I was one of those too). Registration was staggered, but based on how many credits you had completed by that time, so by my senior year I was registering with the graduate students since I had so many credits.

I think priority registration is a good idea, generally, but then one has to consider where you draw the line. At some point then nearly everyone will be "prioritized" and priority registration won't mean anything. But I do think the Veterans Preference is a great idea at schools that already have these priority structures in place. It's just a nice thing to do, and it's not like it costs the university anything.

Posted by: jurisstudent | November 10, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

While I seem to remember my athlete friends getting priority registration, as well as those with disabilities, I know honors students did not get any extra perks (since I was one).

And for the athletes and students with disabilities, it wasn't about getting into classes so they could graduate on time. It was about either getting classes that fit around their travel and practice schedule (athletes), or that allowed them to get across campus in time (hill-filled campus + wheelchair meant you needed more than 10 minutes between classes to cross campus).

Much like jurisstudent noted, otherwise it was about how many credit hours you had. So by the time you were a junior or senior (by which you had declared your major), classes that you needed to complete your degree were quite easy to get into.

I don't understand the reasoning here. That's one of the perks of being an upperclassmen: you could register earlier and get all the classes you wanted. I didn't have a problem getting a single section I wanted (let alone needed) my junior and senior year.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 15, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I honestly don't see the need for Veterans to get prioritiy registration. Atheletes have specific practice times and need the flexibility to pick classes that don't interfere. Why do Veterans need that same flexibility? They are civilians like everyone else after they are out of the military and I don't see why they need that benefit or how it helps them that much? All it will do is make students resent them. The current system based on credit hours is just fine. It's part of college.

Posted by: tfisher1 | November 16, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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