St. Petersburg College moved into the top 20 list for veteran-friendly colleges in the nation, according to the most recent ranking by the Military Times and Edge Magazine publications.
The college was ranked 15th “most veteran friendly” among four-year colleges nationally based on a survey that looked at factors such as enrollment, academic support, veterans staff and the college’s per-credit-hour rate. In 2011, SPC placed 47th, the first time the college had received a ranking in the survey. Also ranked 15th in the current survey were Concord University in Athens. W.Va., and North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, Ga.
SPC’s student veteran population has continued to climb over the past four years from less than 600 to now more than 1,700.
Jeff Cavanagh, the college’s Coordinator of Veteran Affairs, called the ranking “fantastic news” and reported the announcement at SPC’s Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 20.
Cavanagh credited veterans staff at the college and active student veterans associations at SPC’s Clearwater, St. Petersburg/Gibbs, Seminole and Tarpon Springs campuses with the leap in the ranking.
The analysis for the ranking involved a multi-page survey consisting of nearly 150 questions and interviews with students. “Their survey is the most comprehensive and detailed of all and includes actual student interviews, follow-up and oversight to insure accuracy,” Cavanagh said.
When organizers conducted their survey, they checked information they had received from the colleges by speaking with students and contacting staff. SPC’s veterans staff received a four-star rating, Cavanagh said.
Ongoing programs at SPC such as a women’s initiative, tutoring and an early alert system for students struggling with classes also helped propel the college into the top 20, Cavanagh said.
Competition for the top spots was even tougher than two years ago with more than 650 schools responding to the survey, compared to approximately 500 in 2011, Cavanagh said.
Cavanagh’s goal for the next survey is to keep on rising in the ranks. “Within the next two years, we hope to be in the number one spot,” he said.