The Military Student Academic Experience

Since the passage of the post-9/11 GI Bill, nearly 1.5 million veterans and their family members have benefited from nearly $50 billion in investment in higher education. With a heightened national focus on veterans, combined with broader calls for accountability in higher education, campuses are working to better understand these students. Yet, higher education still struggle with incomplete and scattered data on these students, their college experience, and their ultimate success.

To that end, this research study used Mapworks data from over 75,000 undergraduate college students from approximately 50 campuses in the United States to explore the military student academic experience compared to non-military-connected students. Figure 1 below displays the distribution of the sample in this study between military and non-military students.

Key Questions About the Military Student Academic Experience:

  1. Who are our military students?
  2. How do military and non-military students compare on key academic topics?
  3. How do military and non-military students compare on academic outcomes?

Key Points:

  • The majority of military students in this sample were either retired/discharged or guard/reservist who had no previous deployment history.
  • Military students tend to have lower GPAs and earn fewer credits than non-military students.
  • Non-military students, on average, scored higher on academic-related factors than military students.

Who are our military students?

Entrance Characteristics

When comparing military students to non-military students on college entrance characteristics, there were several notable differences:

  • Gender – Military students were less likely to be female, with 29% of military students and 58% of non-military student being female.
  • First-generation status – Military students were more likely to be first-generation students (49%) than non-military students (40%).
  • High-school GPA – On average, military students entered college with a lower high school GPA (3.05) than non-military students (3.32).
  • Entrance Type – Military students were more likely to enter their current institution as a transfer student (47%) compared to non-military students (22%).

Fill out the form to the right to access all the data in our research note on the military student academic experience.