FEB 2017

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20 G.I. JOBS | FEBRUARY 2017 | MILITARYFRIENDLY.COM every interaction and every moment is developing and engaging students with each other and with the real world. This shows up most clearly in their case management approach to assisting veteran students. In our discussion, Chris Gorman's background as a Marine and social worker became clear as he laid out a comprehensive case management process that incorporated a high-touch model within a well- integrated and well-socialized process. "They need to hear different voices," he explained as he identified his role in supporting veterans on a semester-by-semester basis. The Veterans Affairs Department embraces a student-first approach that supports students in addressing their own problems and challenges, not by doing the work, but by aiding the students in identifying issues and then challenging them to discover a solution that will not only meet their own needs, but also address systemic issues in existing processes or programs. What was clear in CCNY's performance in our survey and in our onsite audit is that the school's program builds around a solid set of outcomes that are measured, tracked and analyzed to determine what efforts and investments have the greatest impact on student success. OUTCOMES BETTER FOR VETERANS Military Friendly ® Schools know their veteran students and have access to those students in ways that other institutions do not. CCNY builds its tracking around semester planning and enrollment, which is informed by degree requirements and career aspirations Unsurprisingly, the data they collect goes well beyond the requirements in our survey process. For instance, they have identified that "stable housing" is the primary factor outside of academic effort that contributes to student completion and graduation. To this end, the school has developed strong relationships with landlords and housing options off-campus (recognizing as well that veteran students are not generally interested in the "barracks" style housing of a typical college dorm). Money issues are identified as another key driver of student success. Here, the school meticulously monitors use of GI Bill benefits to ensure repayment of benefits (back to the VA) that are not used (should a student drop a semester or class) and even returning over-payment amounts to ensure that students use only the GI Bill benefits they need. Where many institutions seek to maximize the amount of benefit dollars they collect, CCNY demonstrated a remarkable level of fiscal responsibility with veteran benefits. Their counseling process includes a semester-by-semester check-in that routes class selections through the program to ensure courses are taught to the major, and that any changes or scheduling conflicts can be resolved rapidly. Veterans receive front-of-line service but are encouraged to work through the processes in place, to seek advice from a variety of resources and to engage in process improvement—including taking a leadership role on campus. A VISION FOR THE FUTURE Ultimately, Military Friendly ® programs are measured against the performance of the leading institutions. Because of this, the best continue to improve their programs year over year, which in turn drives better programs and outcomes for veteran students. When asked about the ways in which they sought to improve their programs, CCNY's responses were ready and clear: Increase veteran involvement in the campus peer mentoring program, identify ways to better balance burdens unique to veteran students and increase social opportunities that appeal to military veterans. In addition, they are seeking ways to increasingly integrate veteran services in ways that are transparent, effective and responsive at common delivery points. When we visited Leonard Zinnanti, chief operating officer, he prefaced our conversation with the reality that the City College is an elite and rigorous academic institution that is not for everyone. But he believes military veterans who are up for the challenge will find a well-suited environment in which they can take the next steps toward making meaningful contributions in their civilian lives that can have the impact they've experienced during their military service. TAKING A STEP UP, NOT JUST A STEP OUT We are extraordinarily proud to recognize the City College of New York as the No. 1 Military Friendly ® Public School with more than 10,000 students for 2017. Their program leadership, design and execution are quite literally second to none. More encouraging is that, year over year, as we have continued to adjust and improve the Military Friendly ® program, we continue to see the best performing, most authentic programs rise to the top. If you are a military veteran, you are better off for having served. If you are seeking the academic experiences that will prepare you to take a step up and not just a step out of military service, you would do well to start your search with this year's Military Friendly ® Schools, all of which, like the City College of New York, are constantly improving their programs and resources to ensure your success, not only while on campus, but throughout your civilian career. Left to right: Christopher Gor CCNY director of Militar Veter Affairs; Chris Rosa, im vice c Affairs; Jor rick, CCNY veter Chris Hale, Victory Media CEO.

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