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ODU is the State's Top 4-Year School in the Military Times' Best for Vets 2019 Rankings

By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University is Virginia's top-rated four-year school in the Military Times' Best for Vets 2019 listings.

Old Dominion is ranked 54th nationally. The only other school from the commonwealth that made the list of 137 universities was Virginia Tech, at No. 79. Other regional schools on the list were East Carolina (No. 59) and Elizabeth City State (No. 92).

About 25 percent of ODU students are military-affiliated. That includes veterans, active-duty personnel, reservists, National Guard members, ROTC students and military dependents.

"Old Dominion University takes great pride in offering stellar degree programs and paths to certificationin numerous areas that appeal to military members," said Robert Clark, director, military activities liaison and special projects. "We also strive and succeed in maintaining some of the lowest costs for tuition in the state of Virginia."

In assessing four-year schools, Military Times surveyed institutions that said they offered bachelor's degrees, graduate degrees or both. The institutions were evaluated in five categories: university culture, academic outcomes/quality, student support, academic policies, and cost and financial aid.

Krista Brant can attest to ODU's military friendliness. She enrolled in 2017 after 11 years in the Navy, where she served as a nuclear technician. She's now a reservist. Her husband is active duty and assigned to a submarine in Norfolk. They have a 6-year-old daughter.

"My very first semester on campus was really rough," she said. "It's a very difficult transition going from an incredibly structured environment like the military into college, where it's very unstructured."

Old Dominion's Military Connection Center helped her acclimate to college, learn about available resources and find her educational path.

She said she learned through the center that she could enroll as undecided on a major and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would still pay her tuition. That allowed her to consider her options before declaring. She's majoring in occupational and technical studies, with a double minor in women's studies and philosophy. Brant hopes to graduate by the spring of 2020.

"The Military Connection Center was really able to guide me in the right direction," said Brant, who is now employed by the center through the VA's Work Study Program.

ODU offers a wide range of services through the center and the Student Veterans Association. It also provides several options for taking classes: on campus, online, webinars and evenings.

Brant said stressed that these efforts benefit all students.

"The more military-affiliated students you can get into your classes, the more diversity and experience you're bringing into those classes," she said. "I've noticed that the questions that get asked from some of the younger students are very different than the questions that I ask. It challenges them to think outside the box a little bit, and it challenges me to think outside the box and try to remember what it was like to be that age. It challenges the professors, too, because they have to be able to look at their class from a different viewpoint because they have such a range of ages and experiences and lifestyles in their classrooms."

ODU also received recognition from SR Education Group, an education research publisher founded in 2004, in two areas in its 2019 rankings:

Best Military-Friendly Online Colleges, which evaluated military culture, online support flexibility and financial assistance.

Most Affordable Military-Friendly Online Colleges. Old Dominion placed 15th among 25 schools that made this list.

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