What was the transition back to academia like for you?

I’m new to the CC community, so I do apologize if my post breaks any rules or if this question has already been asked.

This fall would be the start of my senior year. I’m generally a good student in high school, but I don’t really want to go to college yet. After high school, I plan on signing the aviation ordnance/support contract (AE - MOS:65xx/70xx) when the slots open up with the local Marine recruiter.
I’m content with my plan–nothing is going to change it. However, my mother keeps insisting I’m wasting my high school accomplishments. So it would be great if I could receive input from people . I know many of you are busy people, so I’ll get to the point.

My questions are as follows (anyone can answer, not all questions have to be answered):

  1. Is community college essential after the service in order to be successful in college (and remember the material taught in high school)? And would adcoms frown upon the gap between the dates my transcripts/ACT scores were released and college?
  2. Would it be a good idea to use tuition assistance while in the service to brush up on STEM subjects? Would I have time?
  3. Who wrote your letters of rec for the commonapp? I have a couple of teachers I am positive would write terrific letters for me.
  4. Would my AP scores still be valid? (For credit/class waivers, of course)
  5. Student life: In general, what is it like for vets? (housing, jobs, routines, etc)?

I would be applying to Michigan (top choice - would live at home), Michigan State, and JHU nursing if this helps.

I know I’m looking too far into the future, but my parents refuse to sign me into DEP at 17 unless I can prove to them I’m making an educated decision.

Thanks for taking the time to read (and perhaps, answer my questions). It means a lot to me.

  1. Hundreds, if not, thousands of students nationwide attend 4 year universities w/o community college. Why do people attend CC? Because it's cheaper, sometimes easier, and less stressful. Honestly, you can attend CC while in the service online. If anything, I encourage it.

I attended CC in person as a civilian, and also now while in active duty. I’m doing much better now, because it’s less work, and I can spend more time studying then sit in class listening to a boring lecture. The colleges bend over for military. If my unit requires me to head to the field for 2 weeks, I simply inform my professor and we work out an arrangement. Had to finish work earlier, but this is not very common in civilian world.

As a Marine, you’ll be heading out to the field. Guaranteed :slight_smile:

  1. Time depends on your unit and job. I work in healthcare, so my hours tend to be fixed (usually). However, your weekends will be yours. Accross all services, weekends are left to the servicemember. Unless you have a mandated duty (fire guard, staff duty, or other duties pertinent to your job). Typically, the combat arms dudes had less time. But that's not across the board. I have infantry dudes next to me whose schedule is better than mine!

I highly suggest you pick a job with marketable skills and pertinent to your major. If you pick combat arms, I hope that was something you thought through. Marine Corps has many jobs ranging from combat to combat support to intelligence. You sound pretty smart, so I’m sure you’ll score good on the ASVAB.

  1. (I'm assuming you're asking post service). Once out of the service, you can ask your leadership (bosses) to write you letters of recommendation. You simply contact the college, explain you're leaving the service and if one of your bosses can write you memorandum sponsoring you (letter of recommendation). 9 times out of 10, they understand and will work with you. This is not just military friendly colleges, colleges like Amherst College and Columbia University allow this. This is very important especially if you're coming back from deployment.
  2. Yes, AP scores are valid forever. Take as many as you can. I wish I did back then, but my high school didn't provide them. If you can't for some reason, you can always do CLEP. CLEPs are free in the military for your 1st test ($80 per test), but retakes aren't (unless Marine Corps have different policy). Also, google the Marine Leadership Program, very awesome program once you exit the service. Very few use it. I believe Columbia University guarantees admission to marines also, but few do that also.
  3. It's a regular job but with longer hours and more responsibilities. You will be expected to perform physically and take leadership, ESPECIALLY in the Marine Corps. A Private First Class will have more responsibilities as a Marine than a soldier. It's unheard of. Even I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. You will have dorms, toiletries, and all equipment provided to you. Your salary is guaranteed. Free healthcare and dental care. There is always promotions and you can make a career.

I highly, highly recommend you look at ROTC for college. Worth a look, it can pay for your college and get you ready for the miltiary. If you do decide to enlist instead of commission, you’ll have a GI Bill at the end, experience and probably (I will assume) a 2 year degree once you exit. You’ll be way ahead of your peers. A Marine background is well respected by colleges, employers and your peers.

Don’t forget to consider Marine Reserves also. Look at all your options. Remember, this is your future. Ask all the questions you can while you’re a civilian because once you sign, it’s very very hard to go back. Change your mind, cry, laugh do all you can. Be comfortable with your final choice.

A Marine is always a Marine.

Note: I’m in the Army, not Maine Corps. Different, but all branches have similarities.

I appreciate the input. Also, thanks for telling me about the Leadership Program. Based on the brochure, it sounds like a tool I’d need after EAS. And I’m glad that AP scores are eternal. Otherwise, those would have been hundreds of dollars milked from my mother’s wallet.

As for ROTC: I don’t want to head into college not knowing what it’s like to be stressed. And by stressed, I don’t mean all-nighters or a sports meet coming up. I was sheltered in a college town my whole life around similar people. Heck, I barely know how to use the stove or answer the door for a stranger. I’d like to taste the brute, tough air outside my home for once, if that makes sense. So, as you said, I would like the experience.

Again, thank you for taking the time to answer.

Also, I forgot to ask, how long are ACT scores valid? I received a pretty decent score. Would I have to retake the test or would my old scores be considered? Some schools I’ve noticed have strict policies regarding the age of scores. Others aren’t as clear. Anyone have experience with that?

Hope you’re still paying attention to this, Fire.

I’m a Marine Corps veteran currently entering my senior year of college at a state university, so I figured I would chime in here for you. Real quick so you understand my perspective a little more: I enlisted into the Marine Corps right out of high school in 2006 (no AP classes and mediocre GPA) as an 0311 Infantryman, spent 4 years in a combat unit with two deployments to Iraq, left the military and after a couple years of working a random job decided to go to school (by this point 6 years since I graduated HS). I was accepted to some rally good schools (for me, personally), but all were out of state and it would’ve been too much a financial burden to move away from family, so I ended up at my local community college and transferred within 2 years (with an AA 2-year degree) to the local state university.

  1. I felt for me, personally, community college was essential to getting me back in the academic mindset and setting me up for further collegiate success. Like I mentioned, by time I decided to go to school it was 6 years since HS and I definitely didn't have time to work on academics as a Marine Infantryman, so I was definitely rusty on particulars like mathematics. I didn't realize it at first, but going to CC instead of a 4-year right away allowed me to take that extra prep opportunity to catch up on those essential lost basics. I imagine if I went head-first into a 4-year, I would've been more overwhelmed and more stressed in general, but that's me personally. I know a lot of military veterans who went directly into 4-year universities and absolutely succeeded, I suppose it's really what kind of student you were before (or became during) the military. I'm sure if I had opportunity to go to CC while in the service, then I would've been fine going to a 4-year right after my enlistment, but I did not have that opportunity.

I don’t think anyone frowns upon any time gaps as soon as they see “veteran” splashed all across your applications; they generally understand. Of course, if you take CC classes while enlisted, then there wouldn’t be too much of a gap anyway. I can’t stress enough how much you should take advantage of taking classes while on active duty or at least doing FREE CLEP tests. I didn’t even figure out I could take CC classes and CLEP tests on active duty until just a few months before my enlistment ended - way too late to take advantage of it.

  1. Kind of going with the above, I highly recommend taking CC while on active duty with tuition assistance programs, if your MOS allows you the time, and if your branch offers TA (tuition assistance). I've read articles that, due to budget cuts and general military downsizing when I left the Marine Corps, the TA programs were discontinued in the Marine Corps (I believe they stayed for Army/Navy, etc.), so you should look into if TA is even offered in the Marine Corps (hint: don't just ask you recruiter). Otherwise, depending on which state you're a resident of and which CC you attend, you may be eligible for tuition waivers anyway, at least reducing the price of CC or even making it zero price tuition and fees.

Whether or not you have time to attend your CC classes (either in person or online) really depends on your MOS and your command (leadership/bosses). For example, I was in the infantry, so most weeks (and some weekends) I was in the field training, away from any possibility of working on schoolwork, if I wasn’t deployed. This left very little time for anything else, much less CC courses. However, I’ve known a lot of other MOSs where service members have more set, strict hours, as fezha mentions, and can make that time commitment. Also, while your command (at least your direct supervisors/bosses) generally want to see you excel, grow, and succeed professionally and personally, sometimes they may see some conflicting responsibilities with your school duties and your service duties and may be resistant to your educational endeavor requests.

  1. I had a couple of my prior military supervisors and my (then) current civilian job manager write my letters of rec. I think I had one old HS teacher write one as well, but that was only because he was also my football coach and our families were fairly close. Really, it would've been very difficult to track down any HS teachers for letters since 6 years later it was likely that most weren't even at that same school anymore (even my teach/football coach was at a different school by then!). I thought even 4 years would've been cutting it "close" as far as a real recommendation since technically none of those teachers had even seen me in years. It's more likely that recommendations from your most recent military supervisors would hold more weight as you leave the service than your professors. You can email specific schools to make sure this is okay (I know some require at least one letter of rec from a HS teacher), as I did, and generally they are accommodating. You may also have your CC professors, if possible, submit letters as well. Really, you've got to realize that college applications, and particularly the commonapp, is catered to traditional students either from HS or from direct HS-CC route, which is essentially why you find this thread in the "Specialty College Admissions Topics" section of the forum. Applying as a veteran, especially a veteran with CC experience will be different than a traditional applicant, and colleges generally understand this.
  2. As mentioned above, AP scores are good for life.
  3. Student life for veterans is, generally, much different than your typical college student. Mainly because you would be older, wiser, hopefully more mature, and have different things going on in life. If you enlisted, and obtained an honorable discharge, then you would have the GI Bill, which includes covering all tuition, a book stipend (few hundred dollars each term), and a housing allowance that should generally cover rent and utilities for your school's area, or whatever really (housing allowance only for resident students, i.e. students who attend classes physically located on campus, not online). As far as housing specifically, generally a veteran not living at home with his/her parents will find a rental home or apartment close to campus, with or without roommates. Veterans can stay in on-campus housing, but they forfeit the housing allowance by doing so, which may or may not be the better decision, depending on the math. So, generally, having your own place of course grants you certain amenities such as more privacy, etc. Having roommates saves on money too. For example, if I had a roommate in the place I live now, my $2,000 rent would be split between us ($1,000 each) and I would have $2,100 left over for whatever else, clothes, food, savings (housing allowance for my area is $3,117 per full month of "training"/education). If I wanted to live alone, I would fit the full $2,000 for rent, leaving myself with less disposable income after the rent . . . but I would live completely alone (with my cat :) ). Or I could forfeit the entire $3,117 per month and live in the dorms, steps away from my classes. These are the decisions you would need to make for yourself if you used your Post 9-11 GI Bill. Really, a lot of the housing differences are as varied as normal college students though - if you want to party more often, then you can do that.

Jobs is an interesting facet, mainly because you may have some interesting and relevant work experience compared to traditional students, and so you have an advantage when looking for jobs and internships. Many employers see military experience as a positive because they understand that the military teaches valuable personal qualities in addition to professional skills. This is especially advantageous to you if you plan to pursue a career, and are studying in school, in the same or similar professional field that you were a part of while on active duty. I was in the infantry and I don’t plan on becoming a police officer or security guard, and I’m currently studying economics, so I don’t stress my professional military skills as much as the personal skills I acquired. This, like housing, can go various ways depending on specific personal context. Your veteran identity in the workplace can be completely different from your veteran identity in the classroom too, considering your workplace environment may be more diverse than your collegiate environment or vice-versa.

Your student-veteran routine may vary as well. All of this is coming from the perspective of a student-veteran, a veteran attending college after and completely separate from being on active duty.

I think fezha makes some excellent points in suggesting to consider all your options if you’re considering military service: ROTC, Reserves, etc. From my understanding, ROTC requires no commitment if you are not receiving financial aid from the program, so you should be able to “try it out” for the first year or two and then drop it if it’s not your thing. You can always decide to still enlist or even commission later if you wanted (ROTC is not a prerequisite for officer candidacy). You could also do the Reserves, so you’d go to CC or a 4-year at the same time of serving on a more limited-time basis. Of course you should also consider that educational benefits for Reserves and Active Duty, such as the Post 9-11 GI Bill, differ for each.

So as for ME: I am a student-veteran at a 4-year state university. I’m married, so I live with my wife. Both of us work, so we are both bringing in income other than the GI Bill housing allowance. Mostly, I hang out with my wife since she’s my best friend anyway, but I do have a lot of friends from my classes, especially within my major. I’m part of an Honor Society chapter on my campus, and hold an officer position in my major’s student club (Economics Club). Through friends from classes and involvement in the club I’m generally a typical student, except a little older, married, and with a few more responsibilities that come with all of that like thinking more career-wise and financial planning-wise. I go out and have drinks with student friends sometimes, do a bunch of social and professional events with the club, and talk a lot about school with classmates. I work during the day and have most classes during the late afternoon and evening, studying through the nights. I’ve never been a big partier. I have time to occasionally ride my bicycle or go on hikes with my wife. We have a veteran lounge on campus - which almost all college campuses have now - that is a big lounge room just for veterans and veterans supporters (technically can be anyone, which I suppose it ought to be like since we should not exclude anyone), which includes study area, multiple computers, free printing, free snacks, a fridge and coffee machine, and microwave, study tools, projector for presentations, and a bunch more that I don’t really use. I really just go there for free printing and writing emails if I don’t have my laptop with me. I know a lot of veterans find good community on campus together through services like this though, but just not me. Thought I’d mention it as a good service though. I know there’s also a veteran student organization on campus as well that does events (football tailgates, etc) for the veteran community, as well as sends updates via email on job fairs and other veteran-specific events and opportunities. So, a good university will also have these veteran community facets in place for you to take advantage of and to help your transition from service to school, and provides a great starting point for a veteran to get involved on campus if so desired. I’m not sure what kind of picture I’m painting for you here, but I’m hoping my experience provides some insight for your decisions.

Dude, this is perfect. Thanks so much for the info!


Regarding ACT scores, it all depends on the college. If the college doesn’t mention an age limit on the ACT score, it could be 10 years and u’d still be able to submit it! :smiley:

So it all depends on the college. Also, the military will pay for your ACT and SAT once a year. The only catch: you have to take the test on base (hint: taht’s better than taking it with a bunch of kids)