UTSA Student Veterans Needs Assessment:
From April 21, 2011 through May 21, 2011, a total of 1,672 UTSA student veterans or UTSA student veteran dependents enrolled during the Spring 2011 semester were emailed an invitation to participate in a needs assessment survey that was located on the secured host site of an assessment company called StudentVoice, guaranteeing the anonymity of the survey respondents. Approximately 13% or 214 UTSA students responded. The major themes of this survey are as follows:
Out of the 214 respondents, about 75%, indicated they were a veteran while about 15% indicated they were a military family member. Most, over 90%, were receiving GI Bill benefits. The Armed Forces breakdown is similar to what we have seen in the San Antonio area in general, with about 30% coming from the Air Force, about 30% from the Army, and the rest from the Navy and the Marines.
General Campus Experience Satisfaction Themes
About 80% of the respondents indicated that they feel welcomed on campus by UTSA faculty, staff and other students and over 60% were aware of other veteran students. Around 75% of the respondents however felt that UTSA was a good choice for them.
Support Group Awareness Themes
While only about 50% of the respondents indicated that they were aware of other student support groups on our campus, nearly 70% were aware of social and academic support groups. More than half however were aware of how to get involved with student support groups if they desired, but considerably more, over 80%, knew where to go for help with their studies. Slightly more than 30% were not aware of specific services and programs that were available to student veterans or dependents of veterans.
Student Veteran Support Services Themes
The top three service support offices that student veterans and dependents of veterans were aware of their existence while also using their services at UTSA were as follows: Veteran’s Certification Office, Student Financial Aid Office, and Academic Advising Offices. However, fewer than 20% were aware of the Budget and Financial Planning course found on the Financial Aid website.
Student Comments Themes
Several hundred comments and notations were added to the survey by the student veterans and dependents of veterans. Though the comments covered an incredibly wide area of topics, some general themes seemed to emerge never-the-less. Several veterans left comments related to the disparity they felt being in classes or orientation programs with much younger students who have very little awareness of what it is like to be engaged in a war and the transition challenges they have experienced; challenges not only transitioning back to civilian life but also transitioning back to academic life. Transfer credit issues were mentioned, mostly related to veterans not getting the type of credit they felt was appropriate. Several veterans stated that they are going to school fulltime and working fulltime and have families and they don’t have time to participate in extracurricular activities.
While a cursory read of this needs assessment survey may be to come away with the impression that student veterans are happy and content with their UTSA holistic experience, a closer review shows that we have many areas to improve on to better serve our student veterans on our campus. This survey will be the basis from which further investigation will occur on the many ways that we can respond to our student veteran needs.