Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cuyamaca College again named among nation's top veteran-friendly colleges

For the second year in a row, Cuyamaca College has been ranked among the nation’s “best of the best” veteran-friendly schools by U.S. Veterans Magazine,  the only community college in San Diego County to be included.

“We are proud to be recognized for the work we do to help veterans acquire the education they need to make the transition to civilian life,” said Wei Zhou, interim president of Cuyamaca College.

The annual lists of the nation’s Best of the Best top veteran-friendly companies, colleges, top government and law enforcement agencies and employers was published in the May 15 issue. The yearly review is an evaluation of the nation’s employers, initiatives, government agencies and educational institutions.

The lists were compiled from market research, independent research, diversity conference participation and survey responses. This year, more than 250 companies and institutions participated.

The number of veterans and their dependents at Cuyamaca College has climbed to about 900 since the enactment in 2008 of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. More than 1,500 veterans and dependents attend Grossmont College, the other East County college in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

The colleges take a holistic approach in ensuring the educational success of veterans. A comprehensive network of services is in place that includes multi-departmental coordination between Admission and Records, Financial Aid, Disabled Students Program and Services, and Counseling.

Last Thursday, 59 veterans received their degrees or certificates from Cuyamaca College, up 64 percent from the 2010-11 school year. Grossmont College awarded degrees or certificates to 118 veterans at its commencement ceremony on Wednesday, up 51 percent from five years ago.

Veterans are entitled to priority registration when enrolling in classes. A college success and transition skills class designed for veterans and exiting active-duty military helps students improve study skills and time management, as well as increase reading speed and comprehension.

Both colleges were included in the 2014 list of “military friendly schools” by G.I. Jobs, a national monthly magazine focusing on veterans making the transition to the civilian workforce. Its “Guide to Military Friendly Schools” honored the top 15 percent of 12,000 colleges, universities, community colleges and vocational schools polled for doing the most to assist veterans with their educational goals.

Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges both have veterans resource centers staffed by veterans that provides students access to computers, counseling, peer support and mentoring. Active student veteran organizations are also present, fostering camaraderie between members and providing outreach to fellow veterans.