WCU a top ‘military-friendly’ school

Western Carolina University has been named a top “military-friendly school” for the third consecutive year by G.I. Jobs magazine and is listed in the publication’s “Guide to Military Friendly Schools” being released in September.

The list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military members and veterans as students, said Rich McCormack, G.I. Jobs publisher.

The magazine polled more than 8,000 state schools nationwide in determining the results, examining criteria such as efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students, results in recruiting military and veteran students, and academic accreditations.

“We’re excited for Western Carolina to receive this national recognition for its efforts to serve the educational needs of our fellow Americans who have served, and who are currently serving, in the military,” said Regis Gilman, interim dean of WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach, which houses the Office of Military Student Services. “It gives us great satisfaction to assist these students, who have sacrificed so much for their country, as they pursue their educational goals.”

Gilman said there has been a large increase in the number of military students enrolled in on-campus programs with the enhanced benefits of the GI Bill, which can be transferred to spouses and college-age children.

Among WCU’s military-friendly practices are a centralized office dedicated to meeting the needs of military transfer students, flexible transfer policies, a variety of class schedules and delivery methods, clearly defined withdrawal and leave of absence policies for military students, and membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity College.

Approximately 300 military students are enrolled at WCU this fall semester, studying in 58 undergraduate degree programs, 27 graduate programs and in WCU’s doctoral-level program in physical therapy. WCU specializes in online degree programs in emergency and disaster management, emergency medical care, criminal justice and project management that are especially popular among students with military experience, Gilman said.

Derek Blumke, president of the Student Veterans of America and a member of the GI Jobs academic advisory board that helped develop the methodology for the “military-friendly schools” list, said the listing is a valuable tool to help military students make important decisions regarding higher education.

“The military-friendly schools list is the gold standard in letting veterans know which schools will offer them the greatest opportunity, flexibility and overall experience,” Blumke said. “It’s especially important now with so many schools competing for military students.”

For more information on attending WCU as a military student, contact Gilman in the Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397 or toll-free 866-928-4723, or via e-mail at rgilman@wcu.edu.