Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Daniel Allen

Second Committee Member

Bradley Donohue

Third Committee Member

Kimberly Barchard

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Keene

Number of Pages



The aim of this dissertation was to develop and validate a scale to assess factors that interfere with veterans’ successful transition from military life to the college environment. Student veterans are a unique population in the student body and often have unique challenges assimilating to the college environment, including difficulties making social connections, multiple life responsibilities, and unique mental health presentations. Currently, there is no measure to assess and identify transition challenges that student veterans may experience, and yet significantly more veterans are enrolling in college to take advantage of their post-9/11 GI bill benefits. This dissertation includes two studies. The first was a phenomenological qualitative study designed to better understand the specific areas that may affect student veteran transition. The results of Study 1 yielded 9 domains specific to student veterans’ college transition which were operationally defined. Items were developed to assess each of these 9 domains. Through expert panel review, it was determined that the domains, operational definitions, and domain items were relevant to the student veteran experience and culturally sensitive. This process resulted in 110 items and these items formed the preliminary version of the Veterans Educational Transition Scale (VETS). In the study 2, the 110 preliminary VETS items and other measures were administered to 82 student veterans in order to identify items that were the best indicators of each of the nine domains and to examine convergent and discriminant validity. Participants were recruited via electronic survey from around the United States. Results of item to total correlations identified 60 items that assessed a total of 12 domains rather than 9. Five items were selected to assess each domain and most domains demonstrated good internal consistency (range - .54 - .91). The VETS internal consistency for the total score was strong (α = .91). Correlations between the VETS and other validated measures of college retention, psychological functioning, and peer social support provided convergent and discriminant validity evidence supporting the VETS domains. Regression analysis indicated that the VETS accounted for 10% of the variance in predicting total semesters attended. The results suggest that the VETS hold some promise for identifying factors that may interfere with veterans’ transition to college. The VETS is the first assessment tool designed for specifically for student veterans. Future research is recommended to complete exploratory and confirmatory factory analyses of the VETS, examine its usefulness in predicting other outcomes relevant to college success, and to develop and guide interventions that target risk factors for poor college transition that are identified by the VETS.


Academic achievement; College veterans; GI bill; SSM/V; Student service member veterans; Student veterans



File Format


File Size

2640 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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Included in

Psychology Commons