Poor academics before Military

The reason I joined the military was because I wasn’t mature enough to focus on school work. The military has transformed me and I have been at the top of my classes in training and through out my career on evaluations and amongst my leadership. How much weight will a school place on my previous academics? Will the essay and recommendations hold that much weight as to change a decision.

I signed up for this website just to reply to you.

I’m living this life right now and I’ve talked to several, probably more than 12, admissions offices and here’s where I am and what I understand about this (our) situation…

Before I joined I had absolute garbage HS grades. Bottom of the class type rank in a large High School. SAT in 2004 was 1060. I was a piece of garbage teen who acted like a punk idiot. My grades reflected this.
Left HS and went to a state university. F’s and W’s all over the place. It was just a means to not live at home anymore and I rode it as long as I could. I left college with a 1.17 GPA in 2006.
I’m 31, joined military at 24, left at 30, honorable.
I’m in my second year of community college holding a 4.0.

My cGPA will never reach the “cutoff” GPA of many colleges so I’m in a really bad spot if I ever want to attend a respectable university. Like most things in life, challenges can be overcome.

My research from talking to admissions of top state schools and private colleges is this: They love a good story. Some transfer rules may be hard-lined, such as I cannot transfer as a junior to Penn State (Smeal Business School) because of the rules. But this is not the norm and if a student can show and explain what has happened between my awful HS and old college transcripts, the military and my current 4.0, it will be strongly considered. It’s never time to just pack it up and give up. Frankly, I’m extremely impressed with my experience at Community College. For example, this semester my math teacher has a PhD in Mathematics from a top math school and just loves teaching. If I had any advice, get into a community college and just KILL IT. Show these colleges that there was an old you, an armed service member, and the person you are now. I was ready to give up but I have VERY high expectations of what my transfer schools are going to be for Fall 18. Hang in there and get back to school, they want to know that you can handle the coursework, so show them you can.

Best of luck.

I agree…going to CC is a good plan because CC’s take most anyone, and then you can demonstrate to other colleges that you are able to do college level work. I would then consider transferring to your State U because they will take the CC credits with the least fuss.

Even better if your state has a guaranteed transfer policy for CCs to state flagship universities. Best of luck to all the vets out there. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Completely agree with the CC path. It’s not much fun if you’re looking for that 4-year experience, but the grades are well worth it and I find that they can be much more accessible for more mature students that have had some real-world experience. I’m personally leaving TCC with an associates in business administration and probably transferring to William and Mary in the fall depending on what Washington and Lee says. I think my original college GPA was lower than yours, to be honest–so it is possible to rebound.

I will say this with regards to the community colleges: people forget they are cheap. If you can swing not having to utilize the GI bill, even for something like a semester or two, I think it can pay dividends down the road if you want to pursue a graduate degree. So many accelerated graduate degree programs nowadays make this worth thinking about, I believe.

@cider1 Solid advice. I’m glad to hear you are doing so well after transitioning back! Hope everything worked out for you this year.

@Jrod0109 I had a similar experience. Average/below avg hs academics. Same thing for CC directly after HS. Went back to CC after the military and have sustained 4.0GPA since. I think what got me into other colleges was my personal essay (granted I only applied to private colleges through the commonapp).

So although your academic grades will play a factor, I think it’s important to show the school how you’ve changed post military and to sell yourself

@Jrod0109 They won’t put any weight on past grades. Schools are much more interested in seeing how you’ve changed and matured. FWIW I know plenty of vets with terrible HS grades, that then failed out of college, who after serving busted their asses for a year or two and ended up at places like Cornell and Columbia. Definitely is possible to achieve things beyond what seems possible if you truly have changed/matured and take school seriously

Above advice is correct, in my experience–esp. the part about not using your GI bill while at CC if you can swing it. Also look at the Posse Foundation, posse foundation.org. Finally, check with other vets in your area about how supportive any particularly CC is. Some have great Veterans Resources Centers, and those vet-friendly campuses really offer an excellent environment, including any needed tutoring you might need to refresh skills. You can even visit the VRC on the CC campus and just check it out.