How to Use Military Life in a College Application

Your military experiences could be key to getting accepted to your college of choice

College applications have always been a nightmare for prospective students and parents alike. This is true, especially when writing the college application essay – it’s considered a major hurdle to joining college. Those who have been asked to write it can relate to the cloud of anxiety that engulfs them as they realize how clueless they are on how to write the essay. This anxiety is not unfounded as these applications are serious business. Picture it as an interview where you’re being asked to describe yourself and to justify why you deserve admission into the institution. You also have to explain what contribution you will make to the greatness of the institution. Your life experiences, academic credentials, and also any other career or professional experience will come into question.

If you served in the military, then you have the upper hand. This article will consider vital tips on how you can use your military life experience to ace that college application. There are positive experiences that have been fronted by former military men and women who cited success in using their military experiences in their college application. Most of them though were hesitant and undermined the value of the adding this experience at first. Therefore, if you are in the same boat, be assured that there are positive implications.

Open Up About Your Life

When writing the college application essay, it pays to open up about your real life. Perhaps you had applied to a program while still serving in the military. Perhaps you had some ambition to pursue a certain degree in a specific sector. Maybe you had to juggle family life with military life, and at times you found it overwhelming.

Opening about such life experiences might seem hard at first owing to your military decorum. You might be frightened to open about your personal life. However, you can start by being open-ended. Write anything that comes into mind.

Most applications ask the applicants to relate instances when they applied something that they learned in school in real life situation. Well, don’t overthink about the answers as everything can be a reply. You could even share something as simple as learning mathematics in second grade. The math that you were taught during that time seemed to be insignificant, but later you applied it in real life when dealing with personal and family finances. That’s a practical application of something you learned in school in real life!

Another thing that you could mention is persistence. Persistence characterizes military life, and this is something that you might have been cultivated to practice while still in school. If need be, share a military expedition story, perhaps of how you went on a mission trip to dense forests in Africa. The essence is to pour out your heart and open up about real life experiences that you’ve encountered as a person and as military personnel.

For many military personnel, there are two obstacles that cross their path when deciding on whether to attend college. The first is career counseling and advice. Apparently, there are not many places for current and former military personnel to turn for advice with regard to applying for college.

The second is transition assistance. Most veterans find it hard to transit into civilian life; leave alone attending college. As many veterans can relate, the most preferred route is seeking employment rather than attending college and earning a degree. Did you face these challenges? Be sure to include them in your college application essay!


Academic Workshops for Military Veterans

As mentioned earlier, most military transition classes focus on posturing veterans for employment rather than education. However, there are academic workshops designed to offer the required transition assistance for military personnel to rediscover their academic skills that would enable them to attend college. Such a program is the Warrior-Scholar Project. This project is available at many universities.


Find a mentor to guide you with college application

There are mentorship programs available that link up military personnel that are already attending college to those who are prospecting. The student veteran acts as a mentor in this case and can be of great help especially with college application and admission process. It is called the Service to School program and has been of great utility to many who have sought it.

What If You Are A Military Spouse?

It’s common knowledge that military spouses live a unique life. They have to juggle with new environments, broken employment histories and probably a community degree. That is how the world chooses to view them. The world does not know that they are military wives. However, if you’re a military wife and considering applying for college, here are some few guidelines that can be of great help:


  • Be candid and honest about the challenges of military life


  • Don’t hold back any adversity and the hard times that you’ve faced


  • Apart from the military aspects, show the college admissions board the kind of person you are apart from being the wife of a military man


  • Don’t whine about the hardships that you face. Challenges are better placed to carry away the admission officer


  • Never assume that the admission board understands the military lingo. If need be, elaborate military terms


  • Don’t expect that the admissions board would understand how hectic military life is. They cannot know if you hold it back from them. They have no means of knowing simply because they’ve never been there.


  • You are smart, so you should use words and language that you really know. Avoid using synonyms all the time.



Military Children

Military children face unique challenges

Military children also face unique challenges that their civilian counterparts don’t. However, their experience can be leveraged on the application essay. If you are a military child or a parent guiding your child to write the essay, be sure to mention aspects such as:


  • Living overseas


  • The parent’s lengthy deployment


  • Frequent moving


These are sure to catch the attention of the admission board and officers. Moreover, they may also display a sense of resiliency on the part of the child posturing him as an adaptable and strong person.

Military children should without fail, seize this opportunity to mention all their unique experiences in all their college applications. Admirable qualities such as the following surface:


  • Adventure


  • Honor


  • Sacrifice


  • Hardship


  • Service


Truly, not even a high-ranking GPA can outmatch these.

If you’re a military parent and your child is considering doing a college application, make sure that you make an effort to meet with the institution’s guidance counselor. This provides you with an opportunity to indulge them on your child’s background. This aids in smooth transitioning as the child will be given due consideration and some special consideration. It is also essential to discuss in depth on matters concerning college fees with the required party in the college institution. This discussion has to take place face to face so as opposed to over the phone. A budget can be drawn so that in case you’re out in deployment, things run smoothly.


Military life experiences should serve as leverage in college application just like other narrative essay topics. Are you of the same sentiment? Take the opportunity to indulge the admission officers and the entire board on your experiences and why you think it’s shaped you for college.