The GI Bill has made higher education affordable for millions of American servicemen and women. But even if they can pay for school, returning veterans still face the daunting challenge of trying to navigate the college admissions process.
Think about it. If you’re a veteran who jumped straight from high school into the service, you may not have given much thought to your SAT scores.
Nor have you spent a lot of time evaluating schools or polishing your college application or learning some of the admissions strategies that give other traditional students a leg up in the application process.
A non-profit called Service to School is taking aim at this problem. Founded by veterans and college admissions expert, Anna Ivey, the organization is helping veterans win acceptance into top colleges through admissions counseling and peer-to-peer mentoring.
Veterans are “non-traditional students at non-traditional ages,” says Ivey, and they may not always understand the hoops they need to jump through or the timelines for applying to schools.
She and other volunteer counselors set up individualized admissions plans for each applicant while helping them translate their military skills into compelling college applications. To that end, Ivey says one of her biggest challenges is getting veterans to acknowledge their military achievements as part of the admissions process.
“Military applicants are extremely humble and they do not like to talk about the things they’ve accomplished or the awards they’ve won. You really have to pull it out of them. Temperamentally and culturally, it’s like they almost find it obnoxious.”
Service to School volunteers offer their services for free and to date have helped over 200 servicemen and women.
Ivey says next steps in the growth of the organization are to fundraise and hire professional staff to scale the non-profit and enable it to assist more veterans.