Arkansas State named Best for Vets

By Ken Chitwood
On February 18, 2013

ASU has been working very hard to keep up with the educational needs of veterans, and it shows. One thing ASU is doing: They are responding to publications that examine and rank colleges in an effort to find which schools are, doing the most for veterans. The Military Times is one of those publications.

The Military Times is a newsweekly, print and online, publication that caters to military personnel and veterans. That means if a college wants veterans within their student body, what the Military Times has to say matters.

The Military Times has ranked ASU among the best colleges in the country for veterans in the pursuit of a higher education. As of Tuesday, 433 veterans attending classes at ASU, said Kathy Mathes, ASU Veterans Representative. With so many student veterans, it stands to reason that the administration would want to know how ASU ranks among other universities around the nation.

There were 650 colleges and universities that the Military Times looked at, and out of them, 510 fell into the same category as ASU. They collected information from each of these schools to find out which schools would benefit veterans the most. ASU ranked number 31 overall, the top 6 percent.

The Times collected and evaluated data from many categories: college credit for military training, tuition cost, relaxed residency rules, graduation rates and number of veteran-focused staff. They looked at accreditation and student loan default rates. The methodology, while not exhaustive, is very impressive.

Mathes said, ASU hovers near the top of the Military Times list for best colleges, but this year there are way more schools participating in the survey.

The services provided through the Beck Pride Center became a major factor contributing to the excellent ranking, according to a recent ASU press release.

The Beck Pride Center was founded in late 2007 as a result of a generous contribution from a former ASU graduate, class of 1961, Buddy Beck of Fairfax, VA. The center started with a staff of one and has come a long way, now serving 170 active participant veterans.

The center has been so successful that the Department of Defense has taken notice and awarded them $1.4 million to conduct a four year study of the program and create a model that can be used by universities throughout the country.

In the academic support category, ASU only received two out of four stars. This category rates a schools academic help for veterans, such as special withdrawal and re-enrollment policies for service members who are deployed, as well as veteran-only classes, tutoring and mentorship programs, according to the Military Times.

ASU received three out of four stars in the veteran staff category. This category tallies the number of staff members that are dedicated to veterans needs, veteran-specific work.

Sandra Worlow, Beck Pride Centers director, believes ASU could improve.

I think there needs to be more education on the part of the faculty when it come to veterans unique needs, she said. The average veteran, if there is such a thing, has so much pride that they wont ask for help, Worlow said. Even some disabled veterans refuse to sign up at the disabilities center because its embarrassed, but instructors need to be notified. Other than that, Worlow thought ASU was doing a great job.

The only thing that I would tell other institutions is: Dont throw your veterans a barbecue and call yourselves military-friendly, unless youre going to get them a job the next day, said Cory Payne, Mountwests military programs coordinator, in the Military Times website. Your program needs to have teeth. It needs to have purpose. If it doesnt, its just a dog-and-pony show.

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