Mountwest Community & Technical College has been named the best community and technical college for vets in the nation by Military Times. Last year Mountwest held the number one spot as the best traditional two-year college for vets.
Eighty community and technical colleges were evaluated in five categories: university culture, student support, academic policies, academic quality and financial aid. Specifically, Mountwest received four out of four stars in Yellow Ribbon, which rates a school’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon program, under which a school and the Veterans Affairs Department partner to partially or completely make up the difference between a school’s tuition rate and the Post-9/11 GI Bill; Staff Support, which rates the number of staff members a school has dedicated to veterans issues, the amount of time they spend on veterans issues and the scope and frequency of military-related training for teachers and administrators throughout the school; Academic Support, which rates the types of academic help a school provides, such as tutoring, mentors and learning communities, and also considers whether there is a separate version of these types of support for veterans; and Extracurriculars, which rates the number and activity level of student veteran groups at a school, as well as whether the school supports the groups financially.
Another aspect that has earned Mountwest this title is that they offer a free, three-credit-hour class to new recruits that’s co-taught by Mountwest faculty and Army recruiters. The focus ranges from military basics to managing finances and what soldiers need to do in order to receive college credit for their military skills.
“We’re honored to receive the recognition; it came as a result of a lot of effort on the part of many people,” said Cory Payne, Military Programs Coordinator. “You have to have well organized programs and procedures put into place to fully equip these deserving military men and women for the workforce, as well as faculty and staff that are ready and willing to go the extra mile. We’re fortunate to have both at Mountwest.”
Payne and Mountwest’s efforts have drawn more attention than that of Military Times. Payne has received numerous phone calls and emails from directors at other schools across the country asking for his guidance.
“I’m always happy to exchange successes and failures with other institutions,” said Payne. “There are thousands of skilled servicemen and women in our country, and we need to do all that we can to both prepare them for the workforce and actually assist them in finding a job.”
Mazen Younis is a veteran and Mountwest graduate now pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Marshall University. He found out about Mountwest through his friends who spoke highly of Payne and the veteran military programs offered at Mountwest. Younis met with Payne who helped him enroll and also offered him a work study position, which he has held for two years. Mazen said the position has given him the ability to work and go to school at the same time.
“Mountwest has been the most veteran friendly school I have ever encountered,” he said. “They offer veteran study halls, job fairs, and friendly instructors who accommodate veterans and all of their students as much as possible.”
For more information on the Military Times rankings, visit projects.militarytimes.com/best-for-veterans/colleges/career-technical-colleges/2014/.