Simpson hopes to increase enrollment with new position


by Madison Wilson, Staff Reporter

Simpson College is hoping to attract veterans on campus to help build enrollment, with lower figures announced earlier this year.

About 8,000 to 12,000 veterans under the age of 25 reside in Polk and surrounding counties, and Simpson officials plan to hire a veteran recruitment coordinator to increase enrollment numbers on campus.

“We looked at some ways to help build enrollment and this one seemed a natural to us because of the Home Base Iowa initiative and the number of veterans in the area,” President Jay Simmons said. “We looked at a variety of options about how we could reach out and serve other communities. This one just seemed natural.”

The number of veterans enrolled in liberal arts colleges like Simpson is lacking. More liberal arts colleges around the world are taking steps to attract veterans on their campuses such as offering more counseling and financial aid and providing specialized orientation programs.

Last year, Simpson College had two veterans who were full-time students. The college’s hope is that the veteran recruitment coordinator takes initiative to increase the number of veterans interested in Simpson.

Kristina Kelehan, a veteran who graduated from Simpson in 2014, was personally attracted to Simpson because of military benefits.

“I think the biggest thing that attracted me to Simpson as a veteran was the importance Simpson placed on working with me and military requirements and benefits,” said Kelehan. “Most individuals join the military to be able to afford college and travel, and I think that Simpson does an excellent job in ensuring that stuff is offered.”

Attracting veterans to Simpson is not the only job of the veteran recruitment coordinator.

Forming a recruitment plan, finding services to support veterans and evaluating military benefits are other responsibilities this job entails.

“Having a veteran who is familiar with those services can be very important,” said Simmons. “Having somebody who can counsel them; to connect with VA benefit offices and other areas of the federal government where they have services and benefits to which they’re entitled.”

One advantage that veterans have is the Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps veterans attend college and earn their degrees.

Although this bill doesn’t cover out-of-state tuition, it’s increased the percentage of veterans attending college after returning home from duty.

Institutions are being encouraged to give veterans academic credit for military experience. Veterans spend hours training intensively and some policymakers believe veterans should be allowed to apply those hours of experience and training towards degrees and credentials.

There are several benefits for veterans at liberal art colleges like Simpson. One of these benefits is gaining critical and analytical thinking skills.

“In the military you are often forced to simply do as your told and it can seem as though you don’t have to think,” said Kelehan. “In a liberal arts classroom you not only hear and discuss your thoughts and opinions, but you hear those that challenge your beliefs.”

Simpson College hopes that hiring a veteran recruitment coordinator will help veterans with challenges, provide veterans with a positive community and environment and increase enrollment on campus.