UC Berkeley makes the grade as military-friendly university

UC Berkeley once again tops the list as one of the best choices for members of the armed services, falling within the top 15 percent of schools surveyed, according to the annual Military Friendly Schools 2011 List put out by G.I. Jobs magazine.

The magazine reported that though the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill  has made it affordable for servicemen to attend college, there are approximately 7,000 colleges and universities offering programs designed for veterans.

According to  G.I. Jobs managing editor Dan Fazio the survey ranks the top 15 percent of schools deemed military friendly out of the 7,000 surveyed.

This is the second consecutive year thatUC Berkeley has been listed as having a military-friendly environment. This year’s list also includes Stanford and Columbia universities.

The survey asks questions about the number and type of programs offered for veterans, such as classes, counseling and financial resources. Among other things, UC Berkeley offers a one unit class for veterans designed to help with the transition from military to civilian life, as well as counseling services. The campus also supports the student veteran associations Cal Veterans Group, Haas Veterans Club and Boalt Association of Military Veterans.

In addition to the class and support groups,  the number of professionals available to UC Berkeley veteran students makes it a desirable place for both active, reserve and retired military personnel to attend.

“If you are going to spend your military benefits, you might as well spend them on the very best,” said Corporal Dustin Mooney, a reservist in the Marine Corps and a psychology major at UC Berkeley. “Since we are the minority it is a great way for us to assimilate after coming from a structured environment. At Berkeley people are here presenting opportunities of things you can do. They are not telling you what to do.”

Ron Williams, the program director for the Re-entry Student and Veterans Services at the UC Berkeley Transfer Re-entry and Student Parents Center is responsible for providing the information reviewed by G.I. Jobs. He said one of the reasons the program works so well is because “it is not just people who want to help but people with substantive knowledge about the veteran’s experiences.”

“This does more to dispel the myth that Berkeley is hostile to current and former service members,” he said.

The data is compiled by the G.I. Job Friendly Schools team, which researches both government and private entities administering education benefits to veterans. In the past the survey only included information from administrators, but this year it was expanded to include student veterans at 300 schools.