West Virginia University is establishing one of the first individualized science, technology, engineering and math tutoring programs for veteran students in the country.

With a $15,000 grant from AT&T, funding will support the purchase of computers, supplies, fees and tutors. Tutoring subjects will include engineering, physics, chemistry, math, biology, computer science and more. AT&T has supplied the funding in the pursuit of supporting military members, both active duty and veterans, so they can achieve their academic goals and gain meaningful employment after their service.

“Our service men and women deserve a top-notch education and opportunities to succeed,” said Jerry McCarthy, director of WVU Veterans Affairs. “Service members leaving the military are a great potential source of highly motivated and skilled talent that can increase the science and engineering workforce in the United States.”

Offering one-on-one tutoring sessions, this initiative will improve the education of the nearly 1,000 veterans and military personnel housed at WVU and is the first tutoring program at the University aimed specifically toward veterans.

While many opportunities exist for veterans to receive education once they’re home, the transition can be a difficult one, McCarthy said. Many veterans haven’t been a student since high school, so getting re-acclimated to education can be a challenge: adjusting to flexible schedules, learning study techniques and building civilian relationships are hard enough without mastering basic algebra.

The tutoring program, slated to begin in the Fall 2014 semester, aims to help retain veteran students in STEM majors, improve their grades and help them succeed in their career fields. While veterans can be found in a variety of majors, most are in the science and math fields.

By learning in an individual setting outside the classroom, the student assumes more responsibility for his or her education, said McCarthy. A tutor can hold a student up to specific goals and higher standards, yet be attuned to the student’s strengths and weaknesses. This system will help veterans regain independence and self-confidence as they expand their knowledge base and participation in the civilian education system.

“Individual tutoring will foster early academic preparation so that student veterans can develop themselves to their full potential and give our student veterans the opportunity to embrace and succeed in STEM subjects,” McCarthy said.

Though service members gain valuable knowledge and experience while on tour, McCarthy explained, they still need support during the transition back home. With education playing such a big role, veteran tutoring will provide a step toward civilian success.

West Virginia has the highest number of veterans per capita in the nation, and the lowest percentage of adults over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Being the state’s land-grant institution, McCarthy said WVU has the unique opportunity to marry these two statistics: help the veteran population in their studies, and simultaneously increase the educational level of the state’s adults.

Additional support for WVU veterans, or information on the tutoring program, can be found through the Office of WVU Veterans Affairs.