INA, Ill. (Sept. 13, 2011) - G.I. Jobs, the premier magazine for military personnel transitioning into civilian life, has awarded Rend Lake College the designation of Military Friendly School. The 2012 Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members and veterans as students.
In its effort to help student veterans find the right school, G.I. Jobs incorporated a survey of student veterans for the first time. This feedback provides prospective military students with insight into the student veteran experience at a particular institution based on peer reviews from current students. Student veteran survey feedback can be viewed at www.militaryfriendlyschools.com/2012 list.
Michael Dakduk, Executive Director for the Student Veterans of America agrees. “The Military Friendly Schools list is the go-to resource for prospective student veterans searching for schools that provide the right overall experience. Nothing is more compelling than actual feedback from current student veterans.”
Service members and veterans can also meet individual student veterans from the various schools virtually on the site to learn more about personal school decisions and the transition from the military to an academic environment.
RLC President Charley D. Holstein, a retired U.S. Army officer himself, said he and his staff consider it an honor that RLC made the list.
“Veterans are a special group of Americans and we’re committed to ensuring their transition from war fighter to student is a seamless one,” said Holstein. “Being a veteran myself with combat experience, I enjoy each time I run into one of our veterans on campus and have the opportunity to hear about how he or she has served our great country. I echo the sentiments of our staff here when I say we are proud of being among G.I. Jobs’ Military Friendly Schools. We will continue to work hard at helping student veterans earn their education here at Rend Lake College.”
The 1,518 colleges, universities and trade schools on this year’s list prioritize the recruitment of students with military experience. These schools are making the grade by offering scholarships and discounts, veterans’ clubs, full-time staff, military credit and other services to those who served. The 2012 list of Military Friendly Schools ® was compiled through extensive research and a data driven survey of more than 8,000 schools nationwide. Methodology, criteria and weighting for the list were developed with the assistance of an Academic Advisory Board (AAB) consisting of educators from schools across the country. A full list of board members can be found athttp://militaryfriendlyschools.com/Article/advisory-board/.
Lisa Price, dean of student services at Rend Lake, has coordinated multiple Army National Guard Yellow Ribbon events at the college. Those events are held to help soldiers at war reintegrate into society after their tours. Price said RLC participates annually in the local welcome home event sponsored by the Marion VA Hospital – the most recent was Aug. 6.
“We are also in the process of gauging student interest in a possible veterans club on campus,” Price added.
Financial Aid Advisor Cheri Rushing is the veteran affairs official on campus at RLC. In that role she helps student veterans submit applications for military benefits and other financial aid, and officially certifies their enrollment to ensure they get timely payments. As the liaison between the student and the Department of Veteran Affairs, Rushing is on the RLC front lines of making sure student veterans get the service they deserve.
“It can be a timely process from beginning to end. I try to make them aware of it being such a timely process and most of them are already aware of that,” she explained.
According to her, the number of student veterans enrolled at Rend Lake is on the rise.
“I see veterans on a daily basis. They are a great group to work with. Some share their stories and I find them very interesting. I am very proud of them and appreciative of what they’ve done, so it feels good to be in a position to help them in return, even if it is something as small as submitting an application or answering a question.
The college’s homepage has featured a Yellow Ribbon for years. This came about as a Illinois Community College Student Services statewide initiative to show support for student veterans.
RLC’s welding program, through its participation in the Helmets to Hardhats program, has been a career avenue for many veterans seeking gainful employment. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, along with Senator Gary Forby and State Representative John Bradley, visited the program at RLC in August of 2010.
“They fought for us in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Quinn said then. “They should not have to fight for a job in Illinois. It is our duty on the home front to take good care of those who have borne the battle. And that’s really the heart of Helmets to Hardhats.”
A full story and detailed list of Military Friendly Schools ® will be highlighted in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools and on a poster, both of which will be distributed to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel in early October. The newly redesigned website, found at www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, features the list, interactive tools and search functionality to assist military veterans with their school decisions. The site will be updated with the 2012 list on Monday, September 12th.
ABOUT G.I. Jobs
G.I. Jobs (www.gijobs.com) is published by Victory Media, a veteran-owned business which also publishes The Guide to Military Friendly Schools, Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur magazines and annually rates the nation’s “Military Friendly Employers,” “Military Spouse Friendly Employers” and “Best Corporations for Veteran-Owned Businesses.