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Ten Things To Do When Applying to a College or University

Preparation begins with a conversation. Marine Corps Education Service Officers and Education Service Specialists at Voluntary Education are trained to guide you toward educational opportunities that fit your skill sets and meet your ambitions. 

Research Your Intended Occupation – Arguably, the top reason for dissatisfaction in a career is not having a good foundation for what that career entails.  Successful applicants are able to articulate exactly what they want to do with their education and can see themselves excelling in their chosen professions. 

Research College and University Websites – It is all about Fit. Choosing the right college or university involves more than simply choosing two or three schools based on name recognition. Successful applicants spend time getting a feel for what life will be like at various institutions and whether those institutions match their needs.  “Fit” also means considering that not every institution is a good match for every major. For example, MIT, a school known for its information technology and engineering programs, might not be the best place to pursue a degree in English Composition. 

Assess Academic Readiness – The idea that a poor academic record is overcome by a stellar Marine Corps career is a myth.   A strong academic foundation is the key to successfully being admitted to any university. Applicants may need to attend a community college for a semester or two to prove to Admission Committees that they have what it takes to succeed.  The fortitude to overcome a less than perfect academic record is a trait all candidates should possess.  

Review SAT or ACT Scores – Many schools require one of these scores as part of the admission package.  Find competitive scores by school for both the SAT and ACT and consider retaking the exams if necessary.

Gather Required Documentation Early - Failure to submit a single piece of documentation can delay or prevent admission to the school of your choice. 

Begin Crafting Application Essays Early –A good essay requires several drafts and revisions and usually feedback from a reviewer.  Successful applicants should begin writing their college application essay responses as soon as they decide to apply and present polished works with their applications.

Find Quality Letter Writers – A good letter of recommendation can be the difference between getting into a program or having to wait another year and try again. The person you select must be able to convey a personal connection to you and your skill set within the letter.  Make sure to provide the writer with plenty of time to get the letter to the selected institution.

Research Financial Aid Options – Tuition Assistance or GI Bill benefits may not cover all necessary expenses associated with attending school full-time.  ‘Get the Most of Your GI Bill Education Benefit’ and consider other options provided through Federal Student Aid such as College Work Study, grants, and student loans.

Talk to Other Successful College Students – Applicants should contact the college or university’s Veteran Office / Veteran Alumni Association to connect with service members who have been through the process. 

Still searching for more in-depth assistance with Applying to College? Contact your installation’s staff Voluntary Education or Leadership Scholar Program.

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