College Ranked in Top 15% of Military Friendly Schools

For the second consecutive year, Montgomery County Community College earned the designation as a Military Friendly School, as determined by G.I. Jobs magazine, a resource publication for veterans and active military.

Each year, G.I. Jobs analyzes 7,000 colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide to determine which institutions offer the best education, value and support for veterans and military students. The annual list recognizes the top 15 percent as Military Friendly Schools.

The ranking is based on a survey that examines an institution’s Veterans Administration’s approval of GI Bill benefits, College Level Exam Program (CLEP) acceptance, credit for military service, reserve and guard policies, access to flexible learning options, veteran programs, veteran student composition and assets dedicated to recruiting military students, as well as other criteria.

In recent years, the number of military and veteran students at the College has increased significantly because of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the tuition benefits available under the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, also known as Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“In the fall 2008 semester there were about 180 veteran students. In the fall 2009 semester, there were about 300 students, and we expect more than that in the fall 2010 semester,” said George Pannebaker, a dedicated academic advisor for veterans.

The College’s commitment to providing support services to student veterans is part of its overarching Student Success Initiative. The initiative focuses on expanding access to higher education and increasing student success by implementing process improvements and support strategies that reduce the barriers for students to complete their education.

“In recent years we have become aware of the increasing need to focus student support services on the needs of our growing veteran student population,” said Dr. Steady Moono, Vice President of Student Affairs. “Many of these students have served multiple tours of duty in an active war zone. We recognize that re-integration to civilian life may bring special challenges that could compromise academic performance.  To be truly effective, support services for veteran students must be comprehensive, multi-faceted, and responsive to emerging needs, and a range of resources is necessary to support their academic and career success.”

To assist veterans, the College established a Veterans Affairs Office at its Central Campus in Blue Bell. Pannebaker, a veteran himself, has more than 25 years of experience working for the Veterans Administration prior to his employment with the College in March 2008.

Similarly, Counselor and Advisor Michael Ondo assists veterans and military students at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown.

Mary Beth Bryers, Coordinator of Accelerated and Off Campus Programs, works with active military students to help them transfer their credits from other colleges and obtain college credits for military education courses, as well as applicable military experience based upon the American Council on Education guidelines.

The College is a member of the Service Members Opportunity Colleges (SOC), a consortium of higher education institutions that functions in cooperation with the Department of Defense and the Military Services to help meet service members’ higher education needs. SOC members ensure that high-quality academic programs are available to military students.

Student veterans formed their own peer-support grouping 2008, the Student Veterans Organization, which operates within the College’s Office of Student Leadership and Involvement. In addition to providing a social and support network, the club helps with orientation, organizes career placement opportunities and advocates for veterans’ rights in legislation.

~ by Diane VanDyke

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