By Jeremy Quach
Service to School, a nonprofit organization made up of veterans — some of them current Stanford students — has released a free guidebook to help undergraduate veterans find the right college.
Veterans returning from service find themselves in a situation every college student has experienced: wondering how to take the next step. Unlike typical college students, who may have had college counselors, knowledgeable peers and a wide range of resources to help them, returning veterans often find themselves lost without the proper resources to guide them to a successful college education, according to Service to School.
Saamon Legoski ’16, a returning veteran and member of Service to School, was a major contributor to the guidebook. Legoski knows that while many military veterans are incredibly intelligent, they just do not know how to sell themselves to a college.
“Most veterans don’t know diddly-squat about how to make themselves competitive in the college admissions game: you don’t need an application to join the military, just a signature and some minimum mental and physical health qualifications,” Legoski said in an email to The Daily. “So when these men and women get out, they often stumble in applying to college and make dumb mistakes that vastly underestimate their actual intellect.”
The guidebook offers advice on finding the right college, recommendations on standardized testing and a Q&A with a Yale admissions officer, in addition to information about whether to attend community college or a university and how to use the “veteran advantage” in application essays. The text advises veterans to stay away from for-profit colleges and claims that for-profit colleges prey on returning veterans looking for an easy path to higher education.
“For-profit will likely saddle you with tremendous debt, while granting a degree or certificate that is worth about as much as the paper it is printed on,” says the guidebook. “That is the unfortunate and devastating reality many, many vets have learned, who wasted their time (usually years), money and G.I. Bill to pursue an ‘easy’ path to higher education.”
Legoski himself almost ended up in a for-profit college.
“Lack of knowledge, more than anything else, was responsible for me almost going to DeVry,” Legoski said. “My high school grades were records of mediocrity and failing to pass the standard. I had a lot of F and D grades. So I went to community college — both before and after I joined the Army — and while there, I talked to a DeVry recruiter, who told me that my past failures would be forgiven. So given the choice between a community college and four-year – and with no knowledge of what for-profits were – I decided to take the plunge.”
He did not up attending DeVry but instead applied to Stanford University. Now understanding how for-profit colleges take advantage of veterans, Legoski is motivated to get veterans into top universities instead.
“Veterans are especially appealing to for-profits, not only because of the G.I. Bill money but because of the inherent nature of the G.I. Bill,” Legoski said. “For-profits can only get up to 90 percent of their funds from federal financial aid. If they go beyond that, they aren’t paid by the government — in other words, at least 10 percent of students must be willing to pay for their education. The problem is that the G.I. Bill does not count as federal funding in regards to the 90/10 rule.”
The guidebook offers veteran-specific and catered advice using military nomenclature. One recommendation is against taking classes while in service, as it is much more difficult to get into good schools as a transfer student instead of a freshman.
“We want you to do more than survive; we want you to thrive. This guidebook is a product of love, created by veterans and our supporters so you can gain admission to the best colleges possible,” says the guidebook, which can be found here.
Contact Jeremy Quach at jquach ‘at’ stanford.edu.