RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF ACTIVE MILITARY AND VETERAN STUDENTS AT MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE
In 2015, the estimated veteran population for Mississippi was 200,000–350,000 and the veteran population in the U.S. in 2019 was estimated to be 19,209,704. Of this number, only 910,000 utilized their education benefits (USDVA, 2019). Comparable to national trends, active military members and veterans are not being effectively targeted and recruited to become students at Mississippi community colleges. Moreover, the enrolled military students and veterans were also found to experience more difficulties in higher education than their civilian peers (Smith et al., 2017). The purpose of this research was to identify the strategies for improving the recruitment practices for active military members and veterans at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Additionally, this study aimed to identify the support services that can assist with retaining these students through graduation. This qualitative research study took place at MGCCC because of the large military presence in the cities where the college is located. The participants were college employees who have worked or currently work with active military and veteran students, in any capacity. The results showed that all participants were passionate about the active military and veteran student population and were invested in how their college could improve their efforts to help the students succeed. This research portrays the firsthand experience of these employees and their interactions with military and veteran students and discusses valuable implications to aid the college in its efforts to increase student enrollment and retention.