Exploring the postsecondary transitions of military brats

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University of Alabama Libraries

Throughout the United States, large numbers of military brats are entering a postsecondary education environment for the first time, yet little is known about how the experience of growing up as a military brat might inform transition to college. This qualitative study used a constructivist approach to better understand the postsecondary transition experiences of military brats at a large public research institution in the southeastern United States. The study sought to answer the following research question: How do military brats experience transition to higher education? Schlossberg’s Transition Theory served as the theoretical framework for the study. Data were collected from face-to-face interviews with 28 military brats who discussed their freshman year college transition experiences. Findings indicated that military brats experienced certain aspects of college transition differently than their civilian peers. College transition appeared to represent a departure from the military community for many students. The experience caused some military brats to explore questions of individual identity with additional consideration for how their military upbringing might inform this identity. Military brats’ backgrounds appeared to afford students both advantages and disadvantages in college transition. Advantages included the ability of military brats to draw upon past experiences and psychological resources in a way that contributed positively to the transition experience. Disadvantages included an unwillingness by military brats to seek support, especially academic support, during their initial year of college. The study encourages higher education faculty and staff to better understand this unique population of students and offers recommendations for how colleges and universities might better support military brats experiencing college transition.

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Higher education