Student military veterans pursuing higher education present with unique career development needs. To better understand these needs, the authors conducted an exploratory study to examine career transition readiness, career adaptability, academic satisfaction, and satisfaction with life among 134 student military veterans (34 women, 100 men). Results indicated statistically significant positive correlations between satisfaction with life scores and scores on measures of career transition readiness and career adaptability. Regression results demonstrated that career transition readiness and career adaptability predicted satisfaction with life, but not academic satisfaction. The findings suggest a need to understand the complexity of student veterans' career and academic development in both research and practice.
Keywords: career transitions, career adaptability, academic satisfaction, life satisfaction, student veterans
With the passage of the Forever GI Bill in 2017, colleges and universities will continue to experience an increase in enrollment of student veterans in their institutions (Cate, Lyon, Schmeling, & Bogue, 2017). The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate career transition readiness, career adaptability, academic satisfaction, and satisfaction with life among self-identified student military veterans. Previous research has suggested these variables are related to one another in the career construction model of adaptation (Savickas, 2013; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012), but they have not been investigated with student veterans.
Research has emphasized the need to investigate student veterans' career transitions. For example, in a study of 317 veterans, most participants indicated they wanted to learn how to transfer skills they learned in the military to the workplace (Hayden, Ledwith, Dong, & Buzzetta, 2014). In a qualitative study with 14 veterans, Krieshok, Hastings, Ebberwein, Wettersten, and Owen (1999) found that veterans who transitioned to civilian life after deployments encountered several challenges regarding their vocational identities. These challenges included experiencing doubts about their ability to work and readiness to make vocational changes (Krieshok et al., 1999). Krieshok et al. (1999) suggested that veterans' telling stories about their past jobs and careers and current goals helped them plan better for their future careers and vocational identities. We could find no studies that explicitly measured student veterans' career transitions.
Career adaptability focuses on individuals' readiness to cope with career-related predictable tasks (e.g., preparing for work) and unpredictable tasks (e.g., changes in the world of work; Savickas, 1997). In a meta-analysis, Rudolph, Lavigne, and Zacher (2017) adapted the career construction model of adaptation (Savickas, 2013; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012) to show that career adaptability relates to adaptivity (e.g., readiness), adapting responses, and adaptation (e.g., academic and life satisfaction). Their analysis also suggested, however, that investigations of relationships between career adaptability, career transition readiness, academic satisfaction, and life satisfaction have not been conducted.
Durdella and Kim (2012) compared academic outcomes among 153 student veterans and 19,845 civilian students, finding that student veterans had lower college grade point averages and lower levels of belonging when compared with civilian students. More recent findings with 850,000 student veterans utilizing their education benefits between 2009 and 2015 suggest a 28% attrition rate at which student veterans left higher education without certificates or degrees (Cate et al., 2017). One hypothesis for why student veterans do not persist with their educational careers is academic dissatisfaction (Gregg, Kitzman, & Shordike, 2016). However, as of this writing, there have been no studies assessing factors that predict student veterans' academic satisfaction.
Satisfaction With Life
Previous research in this area has focused primarily on career transitions and satisfaction with life among military personnel transitioning to civilian...