Published Date

June 1, 1945

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 34: Shall I Go Back to School? (1945)

Unlike most GI Roundtable subjects, the postwar choice of job or school calls for personal rather than community or national decision. Nevertheless, any man who is thinking about securing education of some sort after the war will probably find it very helpful to talk the problem over with others. This is not a case where too many cooks will spoil the broth. In addition, many men for whom further education may be quite practical may have dismissed the idea without much thought because they see only the difficulties in their way. For such men, too, discussion of the question, “Shall I go back to school?” may open up possibilities they had not seen before.


Organizing your discussion

Read the pamphlet carefully. It has been written to do two jobs for you. One is to suggest all of the more important questions which you and your group should explore-the general arguments pro and con as well as personal factors which various men may have to consider. The other is to point out concisely the kinds of counseling and financial aid soldiers may be able to get and where they can go to get it. In this connection there is available for use in organized classes within the Army a text, EM 945, Your Post-war Career, which gives more detailed information about jobs or education after the war. EM 945 may be requisitioned from USAFI for class use, only. It is not sent to individual students for self-teaching purposes.

Informal discussion is the type of meeting you should consider seriously. The present subject is personal. It is best discussed in a small group so that each member can say his say and can have his own questions taken up. If you usually have a crowd of much more than twenty-five or thirty at your meetings, you can set up a panel discussion. This is the best discussion method when you need some formal control with maximum opportunity for individuals in the audience to ask questions or make remarks.

Under “Questions for Discussion” below, the major issues are listed, each followed by a number of subsidiary questions worth exploring. They are suggested as one possible outline for your meeting. It may be that you will prefer to arrange your outline somewhat differently, and you—knowing your own men and their personal problems—should feel free to use your own judgment on this. You are advised to list on a blackboard or on a large sheet of paper the four or five major questions you choose for the skeleton of your discussion. The list should be printed so as to be legible to all present. It will help you keep the discussion on the track and cover those points you consider most important.

Discussion Techniques

For techniques on how to organize and conduct discussions of various types, refer to EM 1, GI Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders. If you plan to broadcast roundtable discussions on stations or sound systems of the Armed Forces Radio Service, you will find practical suggestions on radio discussion techniques in EM 90, GI Radio Roundtable.


Be sure to give the men in your group a chance to read this pamphlet. Put several copies in the library, service club, day-room, or other central spot. Those who do reading in advance will take a more intelligent part in your proceedings. You will find also that some men will be anxious to read the pamphlet for themselves after the meeting.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Will it be better in the long run for you to take a job or, go back to school? What do you expect to be doing ten years after the war? Is working at a job or more training the best way for you in the long run? Will you lose out on the chances for a good job if you go back to school? Should you return to the old job? Do you want something better? Will school get it for you? Should a man go back to school just because he can’t find a job?
  2. What can you learn in school? What are your special interests? Do you want training in some special skill? Do you want some general type of training in a trade like carpentry, agriculture, or auto mechanics? Will this offer the kind of future you want? What is this thing called “general education”? What does it do for you? How much time does it take? Can you combine it with training for a special job? What about professional training-law, teaching, medicine, ministry?
  3. Can you afford the time and money necessary for more education? What will the education you are considering cost you? Will the GI Bill cover this cost? Are there costs not payable in dollars? When do you think a man is too old for more education? Do you think it won’t be easy for mature men to fit into school again? Is evening or other part-time school a solution for such men? Should special classes be set up for war veterans in most schools and colleges? Do you think marriage should prevent men from considering more training or other education?
  4. Will there be much red tape in getting back to school? Will men be given credit for Army experience? How and how much? Will men be given civilian credit for courses of training taken in Army schools? Will tests or examinations be necessary? Can men apply for school or college entrance directly? Is it complicated to make financial arrangements under the GI Bill? Where can a soldier get personal advice?


For Further Reading

These books are suggested for supplementary reading if you have access to them or wish to purchase them from the publishers. They are not approved nor officially supplied by the War Department. They have been selected because they give additional information and represent different points of view.

American Universities and Colleges. Edited by C. S. Marsh. Published by American Council on Education, 744 Jackson Place, N.W., Washington 6, D. C. (1940). Reference book in which to look up details about courses offered, size of school, and other important information for all accredited American colleges and universities.

Choose and Use Your College. By Guy E. Snavely. Published by Harper and Brothers, 49 East 33d St., New York 16, N. Y. (1941). Describes the more important factors to consider in going to college and what to expect from a college education.

A Design for General Education. Published by American Council on Education (1944). Statement of objectives and content in ten major fields of general education, such as choosing an occupation and international affairs.

A Letter to GI’s. A special issue of Life Magazine, September 25, 1944. A report to the servicemen on life in the United States during the war and on postwar plans.