University of Central Oklahoma ranked in Top 10 of Military Times Best: Colleges 2018

Members of the Army Reserve Officer's Training Corps unfurl an American flag during the University of Central Oklahoma's home football opener Aug. 31 at Wantland Stadium. [Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman Archives]

Originally published by NewsOK | The University of Central Oklahoma has been recognized for its dedication to veterans for the third consecutive year, landing in the Top 10 of The Military Times' list of best four-year colleges and universities for student veterans and active military.

UCO jumped from No. 21 to No. 10 on The Military Times Best: Colleges 2018 list.

About 900 UCO students self-identify as veterans, and several hundred more are military dependents, said Kennan Horn, director for veteran programs.

UCO offers resources for their academic, financial, physical and social needs through the Veterans Higher Education Resources Office (VetHERO), Veteran Support Alliance and Student Veterans of America. This year, a Veterans Upward Bound program was added to enhance outreach to veterans.

"We are humbled at the progress that we've made in these last few years and look forward to continuing to improve on an already solid program in the coming years," Horn said.

The success of UCO's veterans programs is due to the "tremendous amount of support from our university leadership, UCO institutional research and our veteran staff members in Student Support Services, VetHERO, and now, Veterans Upward Bound," he said.

The Military Times Best: Colleges 2018 list, formerly known as Best for Vets: Colleges, is based on responses to a 150-question survey and on data from the federal education, defense and Veterans Affairs departments to determine how schools stacked up across five categories: university culture, academic quality and outcomes, policies, student support, and cost and financial aid.

More than 600 colleges submitted the survey, but only 218 made the cut.

Also on the list for four-year schools are the University of Oklahoma, ranked 84th, and Oklahoma State University, ranked 85th. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology is 12th on the list of best career and technical colleges for veterans.

"Considering our office was established two short years ago, it's quite an achievement for OSU," said Rick Hansen, coordinator of Veteran Student Academic Services.

His office coordinates with campus, community, state and federal organizations to provide services to more than 850 veterans and military-affiliated students in Stillwater. The office is also in charge of the Veterans Success Center on campus, which offers veteran students a place to study, interact and seek academic assistance.

OU reports there currently are 786 active-duty students and 977 veterans. OU Veteran Student Services streamlines the processing of VA education benefits for students; participates in presentations and training conferences; and coordinates projects with the OU Veteran Support Alliance. The alliance is an organization of faculty and staff volunteers who work with student veterans to achieve academic and personal success. The group funds veteran appreciation events, Green Zone training, veteran student orientation, scholarships, veteran student emergency needs and support for OU Student Veteran Association projects and events.

D'Youville College, a private college in Buffalo, New York, ranked highest among four-year schools. Central Community College-Nebraska, Grand Island, Nebraska, topped the list of two-year institutions. Ranked first for online and nontraditional schools is the University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, Maryland, while Savannah (Ga.) Technical College topped the list of best career and technical colleges.

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