Photo by Jake McLernon

George Mason University provides a variety of services and programs on campus that are dedicated to ensure student success. This has been recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine, which recently named Mason a Military Friendly School for the third year in a row.

“It is important that a school knows and recognizes its military population,” said Aaron Emery, the military transition coordinator at the Office of Military Services, a subset within the Office of Admissions. “Specifically, ‘military friendly’ means that we are providing many services that are helpful to the military population.”

“We are here to advocate for military students,” Emery said. “We are interested in how to make a military student successful at Mason.”
Emery said that other universities are struggling to become as military friendly as Mason, often because their administrative bureaucracy gets in the way.

“Some schools just focus on admissions and credit-transferring, or just one side of the process,” Emery said. “But there is no one, cookie-cutter answer.”

In fact, other universities often call Mason to praise its programs and seek advice upon seeing the success that military students and Military Services experience.

“Other universities sometimes struggle with how to set up this type of program,” Emery said. “You have to know how your school works. No one size fits.” Colleges often are unable to take advantage of the benefits that are offered to military students, Emery said .
G.I. Jobs magazine, which targets military personnel making the transition from military to civilian life, reviewed over 8,000 schools before composing the list.

The magazine judges schools on specific criteria which it then divides into four different categories that account for a certain percentage of the overall score. These categories include programs and policies, financial commitment, and success in recruiting military students.

Military Services was essential in making Mason military friendly.

“Because all of us here working in the office have experience, we are able to help put everything together for the students that come in here,” Emery said. “It is easier to be successful here because we have all of the components: Mason, the military and the Department of Veteran Affairs.”

Emery said that there is no simple answer when it comes to ensuring success for a military student.

“It is important that the school knows its own population,” Emery said. “Because we are part of admissions, we are able to deal with all the necessary relationships involved in the college process.”

Included in this process of helping military students adjust to college life are several programs created by Military Services. Among these include Battle Buddies, which matches up new military students with junior or senior students who serve as mentors. “We match up students based on major, and if possible on branch of service,” Emery said.

The program, which just recently launched, helps to aid military students at Mason with different aspects of their education. “It provides a comfort to military students,” Emery said. “I don’t know of any other schools that have a program like this.”

Other programs include the Military Alliance Program, which helps to bridge the gap between the military students and the rest of the community. “It touches on sensitive things that most people wouldn’t really think about,” Emery said.

Upcoming events include Mason Honors the Military, which will take place Nov. 1 to Nov. 15 to observe Veterans Day.

As Mason continues its military friendly programs and services, it is important to note that there are resources available that will help ensure success for life. “We want students to be successful at Mason and beyond,” Emery said.