Dartmouth College has become the third institution of higher education in the nation to participate in an organization that recruits veterans who may not otherwise choose to apply to selective colleges.
The Posse Veterans Program also includes Wesleyan and Vassar. The aim is to find, attract and support students who have developed extraordinary talents and life experience during military service.
Since it was launched 25 years ago, the Posse Foundation has opened the doors of higher education to over 5,000 high school students who might have been overlooked by college admissions departments. The Posse scholars meet entrance requirements and get four-year scholarships from Posse’s institutional partners. Now Posse is doing the same thing for veterans, many of whom have seen combat in recent conflicts.
“The philosophy behind Posse is that a sense of community helps students who bring a unique profile to a campus," said Dartmouth Provost Carolyn Dever.
Dartmouth has already been educating veterans, thanks in part to recruiting efforts by past President Jim Wright, a former Marine. Posse, Provost Dever says, will give veterans the close-knit support group they have come to value in uniform. But she says returning to college from military service isn’t easy, so the veterans will have their own resources.
These include "faculty mentoring, social and professional development, an annual Posse veterans program meeting, to which all of them will go and have an opportunity to network. It’s a fantastic program and we’re fortunate to able to participate,” Dever said.
Dartmouth Assistant Dean Kent Yrchik-Shoemaker says most veterans who attend Dartmouth might not have gotten in right after high school. On the GI bill, they tend to excel in community colleges, and then get transferred based on that achievement. The struggle, he says, has been to get them to Dartmouth’s door.
“And then also for veterans also to believe that it makes sense and that they have a chance to apply here,” he added.
Posse, Yrchik-Shoemaker says, instills that confidence. It also gives veterans who graduate the benefit of Dartmouth's large and loyal alumni network, which he says will be useful when it comes to looking for employment.