Background and Purpose
Previous research has suggested a potential link between veterans’ experiences and achievement of post-traumatic growth, which can improve the individuals’ chances of successful rehabilitation (Mastrocola & Flynn, 2017). However, a distinct approach is needed to identify the factors of PTG promotion among student veterans. The present study aimed to establish the connection between academic excellence, adjustment to academic life, and PTG achievement in a sample of student veterans. The primary hypothesis of this study suggested that participation in extra-curricular activities would increase PTG occurrence in student veterans and promote their adaptation to academic life.
A sample of 164 student veterans aged 27 to 77 from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa was surveyed. Descriptive statistics were calculated to analyze the gathered data and ascertain the respondents’ traits. The participants were asked to complete a series of questionnaires to gather information on the extra-curricular activities attended, veteran status, adjustment to academic life, and PTG experiences. The independent variables were adjustment to academic life and PTG experiences; the dependent variables were engagement in extra-curricular activities and academic excellence. A survey was conducted to measure the respondents’ experiences in four PTG domains, with question 16 measuring appreciation of life, question 10 – personal strength, question 12 – new experiences, and questions 15, 17, 18, 20 – relating to others. Questions 11, 14, and 21 assessed the individuals’ adjustment to academic life. A multiple regression model was created to clarify the correlation between academic excellence, adjustment to academic life, and PTG achievement.
The descriptive statistics tests revealed that 68% of the sample was 28-52 years old; 63% were men, and 37% were women. 170 respondents were military veterans, out of which 164 individuals were enrolled in a higher education institution, and 99 participants engaged in extra-curricular activities. The mean range for adjusting to academic life answers was 3.98, suggesting that most respondents adapted to academic life well. The regression model produced statistically significant results on the correlation between academic excellence and adjustment to academic life. In addition, it was established that student veterans with higher levels of engagement in co-curricular activities were more likely to experience PTG and report academic adjustment. Finally, 24 respondents reported encountering significant challenges in adjusting to college life and relating to others, mostly due to the generational gap and military background.
Conclusions and Implications
The results of this study highlight the importance of extra-curricular activities and university policies for student veterans’ welfare and the current body of knowledge. The results revealed that extra-curricular activities attendance is likely to promote PTG and adjustment in student veterans. It has also been noted that student veterans can experience considerable issues when adapting to college life, as most student veterans are older than their peers and have distinct military backgrounds. Future research should add additional variables to the model, such as the type of military experience and PTSD symptoms.
Mastrocola, S. S., & Flynn, D. P. (2017). Peer emotional support, perceived self-efficacy, and mental health morbidities among student-veterans at a public university. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 65(3), 187–198.