Methods. A sample of 164 student veterans aged 27 to 77 from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa was surveyed. The participants were asked to complete a series of questionnaires to gather information on the extracurricular activities attended, veteran status, adjustment to academic life, and academic performance. Descriptive statistics were calculated to analyze the gathered data and ascertain the respondents' traits. The dependent variables were adjustment to academic life and academic excellence; the key independent variable was engagement in extracurricular activities.
Results. The descriptive statistics tests revealed that 68% of the sample was 28-52 years old; 63% were men. 170 respondents were military veterans, out of which 164 individuals were enrolled in a higher education institution, and 99 participants engaged in extracurricular 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 extracurricular activities were more likely to report academic adjustment. Finally, findings from analyzing open-ended qualitative questions show that 24 respondents reported encountering significant challenges in adjusting to academic life. The main challenges came from relating to others, mostly due to the generational gap and military background. For instance, a respondent stated: “I struggle to relate to the younger generation. I am literally twice the age of most of my peers...”
Conclusions and Implications. The results of this study highlight the importance of extracurricular activities as a potential way to assist student veterans’ adjustment to academic life in student veterans' welfare and identify the challenges that student veterans have encountered. The results revealed that extracurricular activities attendance is likely to promote 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 a distinct military background. Future research should add more variables to the model, such as the type of military experience and PTSD symptoms.