Montgomery County Community College’s support for student veterans recently earned the College a spot on Military Times’ list of Best Colleges 2018, formerly known as Best for Vets colleges.
As with all Military Times rankings, Best Colleges 2018 is an editorially independent news project that evaluates the many factors that help make colleges and universities a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families. Military Times also uses data from the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments, as well as three Education Department sources: the IPEDS Data Center, College Scorecard data and the Cohort Default Rate Database.
More than 600 colleges took part in this year’s comprehensive survey of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement, and only 218 schools made Military Times’ list. Of the 218 selected schools, only 34 were community colleges, and MCCC was the only community college selected in Pennsylvania.
To foster a welcoming environment for veterans, the College created a Veterans Resource Center at the Central Campus in Blue Bell as a place where veterans can meet and receive assistance from Veterans Resource Coordinator Michael Brown with benefits and services. Similarly, MCCC has a Veterans Resource office at its West Campus in Pottstown with a part-time Veterans Resources Coordinator Denise Williams.
“At Montgomery County Community College, we provide our student veterans with an easier transition to college life, by providing them with access to resources, a space to study and gather on campus, and dedicated staff members to address their specific needs. Our goal is to provide them with tangible tools that they can use to further their education and eventually obtain their career goals,” Brown said.
In addition to services, the College has an active Student Veterans Organization that meets weekly. The group engages in advocacy, and education concerning veterans’ issues and volunteers in an array of community service opportunities.
To further support veterans, MCCC holds an annual Mindfulness Retreat held along the Appalachian Trail in Bangor, Pa. Led by Psychology faculty members Dr. Anne Marie Donohue and Dr. Deb Greenspan together with Brown, the retreat helps to decrease stress and improve emotional well-being. During the retreat, students participate in yoga and meditation sessions, team-building exercises and hiking trips. In its third year, the retreat hosts about 20 veterans annually. In conjunction with the retreat, Drs. Donohue and Greenspan offer a Psychology 101 class specifically designed for veterans.
Brown also conducts the Veterans History Project at the College with Matt Porter, senior producer and technical services manager. Brown interviews veterans, both students and community members, to record their military experience. The recorded interviews are stored at MCCC’s library and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
The rankings are published in a Military Times magazine sent to subscribers the week of Nov. 20, as well as online at MilitaryTimes.com, ArmyTimes.com, NavyTimes.com, AirForceTimes.com and MarineCorpsTimes.com.