Date of Award


Degree Name

Educational Leadership


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Linda Spatig

Second Advisor

Dennis M. Anderson

Third Advisor

L. Eric Lassiter

Fourth Advisor

Suzanne G. Strait


The purpose of this study was to learn how military veterans experienced higher education campus climates. A recent West Virginia law requires state-operated colleges to become veteran friendly and this study examined the perceptions of veterans who attended college before and after the passage of the law. Six veterans participated in a series of in-depth interviews regarding their personal experiences with attention given to factors that enabled and/or constrained their academic progress. The interviews were electronically recorded using audio media and standard conventions of informed consent were followed. Interview transcripts were produced, coded, analyzed to identify common themes, and interpreted theoretically. All of the participants identified asymmetrical maturity, intervening priorities, and economic hardships as key constraining factors. Every participant identified military oriented financial resources as the key factor that enabled them to attend college. A comparison of experiences revealed that participants who attended college before the state law was passed experienced predominantly negative interactions with campus representatives and the participants who attended college after the legislation overwhelmingly reported positive interaction with campus representatives. The biographical narratives contained within the study allow the reader to understand what it was like to be a student veteran in these two contexts. The study suggests that recent legislation may be having a positive effect on the student-veteran population within one West Virginia county. Researchers, policy makers, and practitioners of higher education can benefit from the study because it contributes to knowledge about the experiences of veterans in higher education.


Veterans -- Education (Higher) - West Virginia.

College environment.

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