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By: Anna Burleson, Forum News Service
Published June 20, 2014, 08:42 AM

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Sam Solberg attended the University of North Dakota for about a year and a half right out of high school. He had plans to go to medical school, was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and liked playing indoor soccer, but in the fall of 2013 he decided college life just wasn’t for him and dropped out to join the military.

Now, the 21-year-old lives in New York City, where he specializes in communication and helps train Army reservists. But when his contract is up in 2018, he’s considering coming back home to finish getting his degree.

“The training I’ve received here has opened a lot of doors in computers and networking, so that’s something I would most likely look into,” Solberg said.

Many like Solberg have had a similar idea.

The number of veterans has increased by about 1,000 students since 2009 at universities in the state, according to a North Dakota University System Veteran Enrollment Report.

With the most recent enrollment total at 3,100, Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen said at a State Board of Higher Education meeting that he wants to get more information on the subject, including completion and graduation rates.

“I suspect we will see those numbers continue to go up as they return and continue to seek employment,” he said.

The number of enrolled veterans at UND alone has gone from 605 in the fall of 2009 to about 800 in the spring of 2014.

Carol Anson handles veteran administration and military services at the university and said the school offers mental health counseling services and assistance for incoming military members to get their finances in order and use benefits to pay for school. The Fargo Veterans Affairs Medical Center also visits campus once a month and offers counseling.

At UND’s Veterans Education Center, vets can receive free tutoring in person or online in basic subjects such as math, computer technology and English.

UND also commissioned James Becks to do a comprehensive veteran survey at UND that will include everything from the success of marketing practices to graduation rates. Becks said the results will be compiled this month and used to come up with ways UND can better serve its veterans.

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