Service to School

I got my first master’s degree when I was on active duty and doing my Professional Military Education. Four classes at a time, three thousand plus pages of reading and a minimum of one 15-page paper a week on top of discussion questions, PME tests, and my way-more-than-40-hours-a-week day job, and, needless to say, I’m pretty sure that’s where most of my gray hair came from. So, when I left the service and started thinking about using my GI Bill, just the thought of attempting another master’s degree made me itch.

It took me seven years, a bad work situation, and personal cheerleaders who kept reminding me that my novel wasn’t going to write itself, to finally get me to apply for another program. When I did, the process was a little overwhelming – it’d been, ahem, ten years since I started my last master’s, even longer than that since I’d taken the GRE. Then there were the personal essays, the letters of recommendation, the transcript requests. The list goes on. I finally figured it out – I’m now working on an MFA in Creative Writing – but it might have been so much easier if I’d know about Service to School.

Service to School was founded in 2011 by two West Point grads, one of whom now holds an MBA from NYU and the other of whom is wrapping up a dual MBA and Law degree program at Stanford. Service to School, an Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) partner organization, has set themselves the mission of helping veterans get into the best undergraduate or graduate school possible. According to their FB page, they’ve helped veterans get into the likes of Harvard, Yale, and Texas A&M, and have even had two members become Tillman Scholars!

From resume advice to test prep tips, webinars with admissions representatives to highlighting common veteran mistakes, Service to School is determined to provide vets with the information they need to choose the degree program and school that are right for them and then help them get accepted. And they have several different ways to do this:

Blog: Their blog is easily accessible from their webpage and covers topics from “To MBA or Not to MBA: A Veteran Goes Straight into Industry” and “After Action Review: Winning Admission to Wharton as a Couple.” Read through their posts and you’ll find key nuggets of information – like how to use your desired school’s admissions’ blog to your advantage and where to find free help with Logic Games to improve your LSAT score. And don’t forget to check out their 2013 guide for veterans looking to apply to an MBA program!

Mentoring: If you’re looking to apply to schools at either the undergraduate or graduate level, you can sign up on their website for peer-to-peer mentoring. You mentor can direct you to useful study guides or look over your personal essays. And, if you’ve managed to get into your dream school, you can volunteer to mentor (they call them “ambassadors”) a fellow vet during their application process. You can read a testimonial from one ambassador and one veteran he mentored on IAVA’s blog.

Social Media: They share a lot of great information on their Facebook page, including fellowship and internship opportunities and information specific to student veterans, and they also have a LinkedIn group. Co-founder Tim Hsia also has a “Google Helpout” where you can ask him questions via video chat.

And what’s the best part? It’s all FREE! Can it get any better than that? Just head on over to their website and get started!

© 2014, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.

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