The University of Texas at Arlington is the best four-year college in Texas for military veterans and one of the top 20 schools in the nation for servicemen and servicewomen who are working to earn a college degree, according to Military Times.
The news organization’s Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 rankings released today placed the University No. 16 of 125 four-year schools that offer bachelor’s, graduate degrees or both. That’s up 20 spots from last year’s No. 36 ranking. Military Times comprises Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times.UTA serves more than 3,000 student veterans or dependents of military veterans among its more than 51,000 students. Because the figure is based on self-identification, actual veteran enrollment may be larger. The magazine’s sixth annual Best for Vets survey focused on veterans’ academic success rates, including graduation, retention, persistence and completion rates.The ranking also placed emphasis on services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students and their families.UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari said the ranking reflects the University’s aggressive and strategic efforts to ensure that UTA provides the very best education for the nation’s military men and women.“We are extremely proud of our long and distinguished record as an institution grounded in military service and one that seeks to serve modern day military servicemen and women, both active-duty and veterans,” President Karbhari said. “These men and women have led our nation on the frontlines of conflict at home and abroad. UTA is committed to providing them the support and resources they need to capitalize on their military experience to achieve new success in academia.”He added, “UTA’s exceptional teachers and researchers, investment in emerging technologies and many diverse programs will fortify these student veterans as they complete their college careers or prepare to embark upon new vocations.”UTA offers more than 180 rigorous degree programs in 10 different schools and colleges. Degree programs with the strongest enrollment among veterans are in the areas of nursing, social work, business, criminology and criminal justice and biology.
The College of Nursing and Health Innovation, for example, offers a Veterans Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The VBSN program is an example of competency-based education, which awards academic credit for skills acquired in the workplace. Its purpose is to bridge the gap between the training veterans acquire in their military service, and the military health care certifications they receive, which often do not represent their clinical skill levels in a way that translates well in the civilian workplace.The first class of VBSN students graduated in May 2015. Graduates included a combat medic and a licensed vocational nurse who served a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq.The School of Social Work leads the Student Veterans Project, which offers free services to veterans who are undergraduates or who are considering returning to college. Program staff members act as “personal trainers” to help veterans enter or re-enter the education system.The project offers veterans assistance in many areas, including making decisions about education, applying for college, understanding and applying for benefits and financial aid, finding other resources to assist veterans and their family members and understanding the transition to the student role and its effect on the family.Separately, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation awarded UTA a $122,000 grant in 2014 to fund educational opportunities such as those offered by the Student Veterans Project. The grant was part of the foundation’s $1 million national commitment to helping veterans earn college degrees.“UTA’s academic excellence in military research and commitment to research-based support of student veterans form the basis for ongoing relationships with community partners,” said Alexa Smith-Osborne, associate professor of social work and principal investigator of the Student Veterans Project.“These include corporate partners such as JP Morgan Chase and individual donors, whose support of the Student Veterans Project has allowed it to continue refinement of its innovative supported education services and expand services to include cutting-edge telehealth technology, functional brain imaging as part of individualized assessment and transcranial light therapy to enhance academic performance of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.”Other collaborative UTA research focused on veterans includes projects in trauma therapy, military and veterans’ health and mental health, disability issues and assistive technology for veterans.Among UTA’s many significant efforts to support veterans are the:
- Veterans Assistance Center, which provides advising, tutoring, mentoring, counseling, assistance with completing college, financial aid and GI Bill applications.
- VetSuccess on Campus, a collaborative effort between UTA and the Department of Veterans Affairs that provides a full-time, experienced vocational counselor in the Veterans Assistance Center.
- Vet Lounge. Located in the Central Library, the lounge provides a dedicated meeting place and study area for veterans.
- Student Veteran Workshop Series. The University College program is designed to meet the unique needs of student veterans. The workshops are centered on building academic success and confronting transitional challenges. Fellow student veterans lead sessions with assistance from UTA faculty and staff.
- SALUTE, the National Student Veteran Honor Society, which is designed to encourage veterans to strive to improve their grade point averages and advance to higher levels of recognition within SALUTE during their academic careers.
- Adapted Sports Programs. Grants and awards to UTA have enabled expanded sports and recreation programming for disabled veterans. Opportunities range from wheelchair basketball camps provided by the UTA’s Movin’ Mavs wheelchair basketball team and clinics offered at no cost to injured veterans.
“These men and women experience remarkable success beyond simply learning to compete in sports,” said Doug Garner, Movin’ Mavs head coach. “The veterans who have come through our Movin’ Mavs Adapted Sports program as full-time participants or as interns have had a 100 percent graduation rate and several have been accepted into graduate school. That’s a win-win situation.”Visit www.uta.edu/uta/student-life/veteran-services.php to learn more about services available for student veterans and their families.