Teachers College strives to recruit veterans

ASU has long been recognized as one of the nation’s most veteran-friendly schools, but the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has recently taken steps to set itself apart from the greater university in terms of high standards for post-military education.

For the past year, the Teachers College has worked in close partnership with the Pat Tillman Veterans Center to make a teaching education more accessible to men and women who have served in the U.S. military through the creation of outreach programs and degree tracks that incorporate military credit.

The college offers an educational studies degree for student veterans interested in the teaching field that accommodates up to 12 credit hours for military service, and student veterans are able to work toward their teaching certification while earning the degree.

Retired Navy captain and Tillman Center director Steven Borden said this sets the ASU Teachers College apart from other institutions of higher education in neighboring states such as California, from which it receives a significant number of out-of-state students.

It is advantageous for veterans to pursue a teaching degree at ASU, because they are able to earn both an undergraduate degree and their teaching certification in four years, he said.

In California, this process generally takes five years because an undergraduate degree and teaching certification have to be earned independently of each other.

Borden said the advantages for veterans enrolling in Teachers College may have contributed to the significant increase in the overall number of student veterans across all four ASU campuses in recent years.

Fewer than 1,000 former service members were enrolled in classes at ASU in 2009, but enrollment has increased threefold in five years.

The veterans open house hosted on ASU’s Polytechnic campus Feb. 18 reflected the desire of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center to continue this trend of positive growth.

Connie Pangrazi, the assistant dean of the Teachers College at the Polytechnic campus, described the event as a “one-stop shop” for veterans considering higher education and said she thought the event was successful in its mission to inform veterans of the advantages of enrolling as students at ASU.

The open house provided information about veterans’ resources, and representatives of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at all four campus locations were present at the event along with representatives for other degree programs.

Tours were given of Polytechnic’s on-campus facilities, which tend to be more popular among student veterans than those in Tempe, West and Downtown Phoenix.

“Often times we see that some of these students are a little bit older and more non-traditional, and they prefer the more intimate setting of the smaller campuses like Poly,” Pangrazi said.

The Polytechnic campus is also more appealing to married men and women coming out of the military because it is the only campus that has family housing options.

Christian Rauschenbach, program manager of the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, said veterans are a valuable addition to the student body at ASU.

“Veterans make good students, because they have already learned how to focus their efforts while in the military,” he said.

Rauschenbach said student veterans are responsible and mission-oriented.

"Although they are out of the military now, they are able to take those same skills to make education their new mission," he said.

Reach the reporter at megannphillips@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @megannphillips

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