A flagship institution that before 2020 had no designated spot for veterans to gather and reap the resources its university could offer has become the best in the nation at serving them.

The University of South Carolina, which boasts 2,000 veterans on its Columbia campus, was named No. 1 among more than 300 colleges in the United States in the “2022 Best for Vets: Colleges” list published by the Military Times. Thanks to its Veterans and Military Center of Excellence unveiled in January 2021, it has become a centerpiece for one of the most important populations at USC.

“It’s unbelievable to think about how far the University of South Carolina has come in a relatively short amount of time and the impact student veterans had on initiating this enhanced commitment by the university,” said Jared Evans, executive director for Veterans and Military Affairs. “We are honored to be the No. 1 university in the country for veterans and service members. It truly is a team effort, and we are fortunate to have an amazing group of supporters who are committed to leaving the university better than they found it, and truly believe in serving those who serve.”

What makes for a great campus serving veterans, according to the Military Times? First and foremost, it is that they achieve in the classroom, so its weighted measures lean heavily on metrics of student success, such as grade-point average, retention and completion. But nearly as important is how well that campus serves its veterans, offering all-encompassing support and career advisement. Financial success and ease of registration are two other important factors. The Military Times said the upheaval in its rankings from 2021 to 2022 was partly due to the changing of how it shifted those measures.

At South Carolina, leaders have accelerated their assistance during the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, making a deep commitment to provide for veterans throughout their stay at the university.

“We are so proud of the learning and student experience that we are able to offer our military service members and student veterans,” said Mary Alexander, assistant provost who oversees military engagement and veteran initiatives. “The team that we have in place to support these students is world-class, and I only anticipate this support growing in the coming years under our university’s new leadership. We are excited to be recognized for the support we provide and will continue strengthening this support in the years to come.”

The Military Times’ top five includes three more public four-year institutions–Bowling Green State University, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Maryland Global Campus. UT-Arlington was No. 1 last year. The top private institution was the small but mighty Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, which like the rest provide world-class resources to all types of veterans and service members, as well as families and their children. Quinnipiac goes above and beyond by offering help off campus, as well, through the state’s Veterans Administration system.

“Our student veterans and military dependents continue to embrace their college experience and maintain their diligence with our degree programs and high retention rates,” said Jason Burke, director of veteran and military affairs at Quinnipiac. “I am extremely proud of how hard our cadre focuses on their academics as well as participating in our many co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings.”

Also in the Top 10 this year are University of Incarnate Word and Angelo State in Texas at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively, as well as the University of Arizona (No. 8), Eastern Michigan University (No. 9) and the California State University at San Bernardino (No. 10).

One of the biggest movers this year was the University of Texas at San Antonio, which leaped 90 spots to No 31. It cited several factors, but most notably two that had made an immediate impact on their campus: its veteran’s office launched a revised website while increasing its reach on social media and worked across departments, including financial aid, to streamline processes for vets.

Here is the Top 50. The rest can be found here:

  1. University of South Carolina
  2. Bowling Green State University
  3. Quinnipiac University
  4. University of Texas at Arlington
  5. University of Maryland-Global Campus
  6. University of the Incarnate Word
  7. Angelo State University
  8. University of Arizona
  9. Eastern Michigan University
  10. California State University, San Bernardino
  11. Columbus State Community College
  12. Syracuse University
  13. Rutgers University
  14. Liberty University
  15. University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  16. Georgia State University
  17. University of Southern Mississippi
  18. Santa Fe College
  19. West Virginia University
  20. Northern Arizona University
  21. Eastern Kentucky University
  22. University of West Florida
  23. Western Illinois University
  24. Saint Leo University
  25. Iowa State University
  26. Pasadena City College
  27. Central Community College (NE)
  28. University of New Mexico
  29. University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  30. Texas A&M University
  31. University of Texas, San Antonio
  32. University of Florida
  33. Arizona State University-Digital Immersion
  34. University of South Carolina, Aiken
  35. Florida Atlantic University
  36. Florida International University
  37. Arizona State University-Campus Immersion
  38. Texas State University
  39. Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (KY)
  40. Penn State University-World Campus
  41. East Coast Polytechnic Institute (VA)
  42. Western Kentucky University
  43. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Dayton Beach
  44. DeSales University
  45. Joseph’s University (NY)
  46. Colorado State University
  47. Pikes Peak State College
  48. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  49. University of Washington, Tacoma
  50. Troy University

 

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