GW is now considered one of the top 20 places for veterans to get a degree, according to recently released rankings.
The Best for Vets rankings from the news organization Military Times rates GW at No. 19, a nearly 80-spot jump from No. 98 last year. The ranking is the first time GW has been slated in the top 20 after falling in the rankings for two years.
Andrew Sonn, the director of the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services, said the office is researching the Military Times methodology to find out more information about why the ranking increased this year.
“We are pleased to see that Military Times recognizes our university’s commitment to our military and veteran students,” he said.
The bump comes after officials announced last month announced that the Office of Military and Veterans Student Services was fully staffed for the first time in two years.
GW placed at No. 98 last year and No. 84 in 2017 after a peak at No. 31 in 2016. The downturn in rankings at the time coincided with an official announcement that GW would not replace its top military administrator, former Associate Provost for Military and Veterans Affairs Mel Williams, after he left the school in the spring of 2016. The next year, student veterans said several departures in the veterans office hurt GW’s commitment to veterans.
The Military Times creates the rankings yearly using survey data from student veterans, “as well as on our own editorial judgment.” Institutions are ranked based on university culture, academic outcomes, student support, academic policies and cost and financial aid, the site states.
Yannick Baptiste, a former president of the veteran student advocacy group GW Veterans, said the boost in rankings could draw more student veterans to GW.
“GW now has the ability to say ‘we’re still top 20,’” he said. “Nearby, there’s not much that competes with us.”
Two of GW peer schools – Syracuse University and University of Southern California – are also in the top 20 at No. 4 and No. 14, respectively.
Baptiste added that he doesn’t think changes to the veterans office between 2017 and 2018 would warrant the change. He said he and other administrators, like former Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, have reviewed the rankings in the past and questioned the methodology that caused GW to fluctuate in recent years – but they had limited success.
He said officials also tried to determine what other schools listed in the rankings offered for veterans, but often they could not find what was different about each school’s approach. Many of the schools ranked above GW recorded graduation rates for veterans that were lower than GW’s, Baptiste said.
“We thought that there was never anything that stood out,” he said. “It really kind of was unexplained.”
Former GW Veterans President Jesse Robinson said the rankings system does not appear to be consistent from year to year, but GW should be listed higher than the low-80s and -90s rankings it has received over the past few years.
“I do believe a ranking higher than the past two years is deserved because GW overall is certainly an above-average military friendly school,” he said in an email.
Robinson said GW can still improve by approving early class registration for veterans and creating a more efficient internal transfer process.
Ryan Welch, the current president of the GW Veterans, did not make himself available for an interview.