Edmonds Military Wire: WSU a top-tier leader in serving veterans online

Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler

Washington State University’s College of Business was named among the top three in the nation for Online Graduate Business Programs for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report for the second year in a row.

When I was made aware of this, I had to do a bit of “investigative reporting.” After all, this is WSU we are talking about, home to the Cougars, the rivals of the UW Huskies – there must be a catch.

Here’s what I discovered: No catch; it is true.

For those who know me, they know I love giving those who go to Washington State University a hard time. I mean, who would pick wheat fields over water? Of course, I am a bit biased. I do live on the west side of the state (the water side); WSU is on the east side – rolling hills and wheat fields. And in full disclosure, my family has a long history of going to the University of Washington, and though I graduated from Western Washington University, of which I’m proud of, I do consider myself a “quasi-Husky” (a Husky Viking…though I’m quite slender). My WSU friends say my ribbing stems from being jealous. I’m not sure that is it…but here’s what I will say – and publicly admit – I am quite impressed with what WSU is doing to serve our veterans online. So, jealousy may quickly set in.

I spoke with Cheryl Oliver, assistant dean for online and graduate programs at WSU’s College of Business, to learn how Washington State University, a public research university based in Pullman, founded in 1890, could possibly achieve such high marks, not just one year, but two years in a row.

This is their secret: passion to serve veterans. That passion drives them to observe what is working and do more of it. And while they’re making impressive strides online, they continue to look at ways to improve the veteran experience on campus as well.

Here’s the nuts and bolts: Cheryl Oliver and her WSU team designed an online experience that leverages the convenience of online learning with the benefits of on-campus support. By taking a holistic approach to learning – one that integrates the best of both learning environments – they found that veteran students excelled.

WSU also honors veterans by waiving the online application fee – and once accepted, the support and encouragement to complete one’s advanced business degree is readily available. You are not alone despite being in a virtual world. And when one graduates, not only does one become a life-long Cougar, more importantly, the chances of getting hired is pretty solid as well.

Bottom line: WSU earned that exceptional recognition from U.S. News & World Report, which is no easy task considering the competition in Washington State and across the country. WSU is definitely doing its part to improve the online learning experience for veterans across the country…and the globe for that matter. In doing so, our veterans increase their odds of landing that next mission and advanced leadership role in the civilian world. So, I take back all the years of chiding and ribbing – and highly recommend that my brothers and sisters who are looking to advance their business knowledge check out Washington State University.

Well done WSU…from your Husky-Viking…maybe even “honorary Cougar”…friend.

— By Michael Schindler

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

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