By STEVEN NALLEY
Victory Media has included Mississippi State University on its 2013 Military Friendly Schools list, placing MSU’s efforts to embrace military service members, veterans, dependents and survivors in the top 15 percent among efforts at more than 12,000 schools surveyed nationwide.
The list appears in Victory Media’s annual G.I Jobs Guide to Military Friendly Schools, viewable at www.militaryfriendlyschools.com/search/results.aspx . The list has been published for the last four years, and Ken McRae, director of MSU’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, said MSU has made the list every year.
“It’s an indication of the support that veterans, service members, dependents and survivors get from the university and how important ...
(veterans) are to our student population, (to) the university and to the great staff that works with these students every day,” McRae said.
Including undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students, McRae said, MSU has about 2,150 military students, a little more than 10 percent of the total student population. In a press release, Victory Media Vice President Sean Collins said the list is compiled through extensive research and data-driven surveys, and the schools chosen for the list are the nation’s best at recruiting and retaining military students.
“Inclusion on the 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools shows Mississippi State University’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” Collins said. “As interest in education grows, we’re thrilled to provide the military community with resources to assist in their search for schools.”
According to the list’s website, the survey takes each school’s academic success and the amount of military students enrolled into account, but those items together only account for 20 percent of a school’s score. The site says the remainder is divided between two categories.
One of these categories, counting for 35 percent, measures a school’s financial commitment to recruiting and retaining military students, including tuition benefits and outreach dedicated to this recruitment effort. McRae said the Montgomery Center gives out scholarships each year, and MSU works with outside foundations, such as the Pat Tillman Foundation, that award military students scholarships.
“We have a great donor base that donates to our scholarship fund every year,” McRae said.
The other category, counting for 45 percent, measures a school’s non-financial efforts to recruit and retain military students, including certifications and programs. McRae said the category also includes the Montgomery Center itself, which networks with academic departments, the counseling department, the T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability, the Longest Student Health Center and more to meet military students’ needs. Through MSU’s Student Veteran Association, he said, the military students also help each other relate to other students, deal with family issues and more.
“We work with students before they get here in an outreach capacity, (and) we work with them when they get here to make sure, if they are eligible for financial benefits, that they get them,” McRae said. “Our veterans come to us in need of different services, whether (they need) help with the educational goals ... post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or just trying to navigate the changes from military to civilian life.”