Not Only a Veteran: An Analysis of Online Veteran Student Subpopulations and the Implications for Student Services and Academic Support

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

Despite good intentions, student veterans are often viewed in one dimension with military service being their dominant attribute. We will help you look beyond that label to see how diverse subpopulations within an online student veteran population compares to non-veteran peers and how those findings might impact student service delivery.     


Mitchell Farmer is Assistant Director, Campus Partner Programs for the Office of Online Education at Indiana University. Mitchell supports the development of seamless online student services through a collaborative partnership model with offices across the IU system.

Extended Abstract

The Office of Online Education (OOE) at Indiana University (IU) is a university-wide office supporting the implementation and growth of online education across IU’s seven campuses. As part of this implementation, OOE has been charged with integrating online education into the broader university culture.

IU Online, the brand representing online programs offered by IU’s seven campuses, hosts 110 online program offerings, including associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and certificates. More than 28% of all IU students take at least one online course and 8% of our total enrollment are students with fully online schedules. We have approximately 4,700 students currently enrolled in our online plans.

In the summer of 2016, OOE launched a collaborative partnership model for IU Online student services. This collaborative model leverages the expertise and resources of existing student service providers while expanding these services across the university. The model allows campuses to retain core student services but wraps additional services around them. The initial call for partnerships generated seven agreements covering: Admissions and Recruitment, Student Financial Services, Onboarding/Orientation, Success Coaching, and Math and Writing Support Services.

The focus in the first year of the partnership model was to set up services that would support the general online student population. Moving into year two, these existing partnerships will being to tailor services to different student population. Additionally, OOE expects to establish new partnerships for services specifically designed to support particular student subpopulations -- including student veterans.   

As part of that effort, OOE began to examine the online student population by traits including: age, gender, ethnicity, first generation, homeschool, and veteran/active duty. This presentation will apply the “veteran” indicator as a top-level filter and then look at the attributes and performance of subpopulations within the student veteran community. As much as possible, these veteran subpopulations will be compared against the non-veteran subpopulations of the same type as well as the larger online student population. OOE can also explore variations by campus types, from a national flagship institution, to a research intensive urban campus, to smaller teaching-focused regional campuses.

The presentation will conclude with a discussion of how these data will inform future development of student services and academic support for online students veterans as well as how it might enable us to better integrate student veterans into existing campus services targeted toward diverse student subpopulations. Session attendees will be encouraged to share their experiences using data to assess supports for veteran students and to share best practices from their institutions.