Improving Soldiers’ Educational Trajectories

While there is broad interest among policy makers and the general public in the types of postsecondary pathways veterans pursue and whether they succeed in higher education, relatively little is known about the factors that influence soldiers’ and dependents’ decisions about whether and where to enroll in college.

Much also remains to be learned about how to effectively support soldiers and their dependents to select postsecondary options that are well-matched to their academic abilities and interests and career goals. The OEMA research partnership has three primary purposes:

  1. To generate rigorous evidence about current and historic patterns of college enrollment among soldiers and their dependents. These analyses will include the educational pathways soldiers and their dependents pursue during their enlistment as well as after they separate from the Army.
  2. To investigate how various factors—including the occupational experiences soldiers have during their enlistment, the peer and role model effects to which they are exposed, their access to educational counseling and information, and the educational markets and opportunities their dependents can access—influence the educational decisions and outcomes of Army personnel.
  3. To design, implement, and evaluate interventions aimed at improving the educational experiences and performance of soldiers and their dependents. The goal of these interventions is to support soldiers and their dependents to make well-informed decisions about their educational investments, both during their enlistment and after they return to civilian life. These interventions will primarily examine the impact of low-cost and easily-scaled efforts to provide Army personnel and their dependents with personalized information and access to college planning and financial assistance about various educational opportunities that are available to them.


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