By Morgan Haley
There are many UCF students on campus connected with the Veterans Academic Resource Center (VARC), but they may not know all that the VARC has to offer. Those who go to the center will be offered assistance through workshops, counseling, career preparation, and assistance with registration. Personally, I’m connected to the VARC through my father, a retired navy chief, and if you’re reading this, you’re more than likely connected to the U.S. military in some way too. Veterans on campus go through a special orientation that verses them in all of the services offered by the VARC, but if you’re a dependent (child, spouse, etc.) of a veteran or simply want to know more about the VARC, here is some essential information.
If you are interested in visiting, the VARC is located next to the CFE arena on the corner of Gemini Boulevard and East Plaza Drive. It’s next to a Jimmy John’s and across from one of the UCF main campus bookstores. There is parallel parking available out front on both sides of the street with parking meters that accept quarters and parking meter app payments. For those with parking passes, Parking Garage D is the closest garage to the VARC, then you would simply cross Gemini Boulevard. If anyone is unable to physically visit, their phone number and other contact information is listed here. I’ve utilized the VARC’s services quite often and can say from experience that the people working there are kind, understanding, and prompt when responding to any queries.
The VARC is dedicated to helping veterans and their families succeed in college. They offer support through workshops, student mentors, and counseling with UCF’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Tutoring services are delivered on campus through the Student Academic Resource Center (SARC) and can be found in Trevor Colbourn Hall Room 117.
For students unable to attend these sessions, Online Peer Assisted Learning (OPAL) is a great option that still allows for the same group and tutor to work together without having to make a trip to the main campus.
Although the VARC is no longer a SARC tutoring site, they do have private study rooms available for use. The quiet atmosphere paired with lack of interruptions and distractions make for a productive study session. While occupancy preference is given to veterans, the study rooms are open to everyone. For incoming veterans, VARC offers Vet2Vet student mentors that reach out to other student veterans and offer assistance.
Working with CAPS, the VARC is currently collaborating on a suicide prevention project and will walk/make referrals for veterans in need of counseling. The Veteran’s Academic Resource Center is fully committed to their advocacy for student veterans and offers support for those who need it.
Every student hits a point when they ask themselves: what’s next? You’ve got the grades and have started working on the experience. That degree is closer than it’s ever been before. It is now that you will ask yourself what you intend to do with your degree. According to my family, a degree is just a piece of paper that shows potential employers that you can learn and are willing to put in the time to master what you’re studying. While this is true to an extent, we all want a goal or path to aim at and work for. This is where the VARC comes in. If you’re reading this and still in your first year or two at UCF, don’t think that you’re discounted from the subject. The VARC’s academic and career advisor will work with you to find a major or career that you’re interested in working towards. They can help you find ways to gain experience early and help you prepare for those inevitable interviews.
On the VARC’s website, students can find a list of past workshop presentations that cover a myriad of subjects. They have everything from study tips to overviews of the different programs they have available. Personally, I found their LinkedIn presentation enormously helpful when first setting up my account, and the study tips haven’t gone remiss either. The offered workshops are open to all students, but they focus on military personnel. The workshops cover topics such as demilitarizing resumes, interviews for people hiring veterans, and different celebrations of military culture.
One of the most important things to remember as a veteran returning to campus, or as a dependent starting or continuing their education, is to register for courses and certify hours with the VARC to receive educational benefits. For those just starting out or confused about the process, the personnel at the front desk will be more than happy to help by showing you the proper forms or directing you to the right place. It’s important to remember your student ID card when you visit so you’re able to check in. Veterans do have access to priority registration for their courses, so make sure to take advantage and get into the classes you need for your degree!
The Veterans Academic Resource Center does a lot for Veterans and their dependents on campus. You don’t need an appointment to drop in and ask a few questions. Don’t be shy about visiting, because they love to help their students. Utilizing the VARC’s services will ensure a more successful academic life and a more hopeful future beyond the classroom.