For many service members and transitioning veterans, applying to college and enrolling into college can be an insurmountable challenge. Why? Let’s face it there isn’t a manual to follow!
Just like snowflakes, no two colleges have the exact same process for being admitted and enrolling into their school. Sure, their websites may seem simple enough, especially when you see phrases like, “streamlined admissions process”; “apply now”; “rolling admissions“; and my all time favorite….”applying is just a click away!”
To make matters worse, many college admissions web pages read like a college textbook, making you scroll and scroll through pages of content, only to find out the information you are looking for is somewhere else.
So how do you keep from getting totally frustrated?!
The first thing I recommend to keep from getting frustrated is to do your research and find out what the admissions requirements are for the school or schools you are looking to attend. Many schools have relatively straight forward admissions requirements. For other schools, their admissions process may include submitting an essay, a resume, letters of reference or recommendation, and taking placement exams. Once you find out what the admissions requirements are, prepare your admissions packet and documents prior to completing the application. Submitting all required documents at the time of your application will save you time and may actually speed the process along.
One of the best ways to find out what a school’s admissions process is, is to call their admissions office and ask them to explain the entire process to you. This allows you to ask direct questions. Just to be clear, you should be able to speak to an admissions representative or officer and ask them specific questions about the process and get straight answers, regardless if the school is a non-profit or for-profit institution. Here are a few questions you might consider asking the admissions office.
How long after I apply will I know whether I have been accepted?
Do they require official college transcripts before they will evaluate them for possible transfer credits?
Does the school accept the “Common Application”? If not, is their an application fee, and is it refundable?
Another important element to keep from getting frustrated during the admissions process, is to understand that admissions does not necessarily mean you are an enrolled student. This is a key element to keep in mind as a military-connected student. Many schools will not provide prospective students with specific information about their education until they are an actual “enrolled” student.
The DoD Memorandum of Understanding requires signatory schools to provide certain information to military-connected students prior to being an “enrolled” student. This information includes transferability of previous college credits and credits from military training and experience; disclosing full program costs, and other consumer information. With this in mind, one question to ask before you apply is whether or not the school has signed the DoD MOU.
To minimize frustration, know before you apply, and have all your documents in order when you apply. This will expedite the enrollment process and keep anxiety low.